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Shorthand dying skill in age of technology

Sep 10th, 2008 | By | Category: Latest News, News

\THE traditional secretary with shorthand notebook at the ready has been washed away by the tide of new office technology.

Bosses are seeking executive assistants who are adept at a range of software programmes rather than shorthand, say Wellington recruitment agencies and personal assistant experts.

Robin Morton-Smith a personal assistant since 1967 and who worked for Barry Colman of National Business Review, stopped using shorthand in 1989.

“I speed write, abbreviate and I’m very fast at typing,” she says. “Competent computer skills are replacing shorthand in the secretarial world.”

The few remaining shorthand courses in New Zealand are taught to journalism students but, in business, shorthand is “a dying art”, says Julie Cressey, national manager of organisational development at Madison Recruitment.

“More often than not we have secretaries with laptops in meetings, who are incredibly fast typists and that seems to have replaced the need for shorthand,” says Ms Cressey.

“We still have employees who have the ability and are never asked to use it.”

Amanda Harrison, a Madison consultant, says: “In my experience there are very few clients who request shorthand as a non-negotiable requirement when searching for candidates in the current market.”

The managing director at Rob Law Maxrecruitment, Patrick Quin, says recently he has had no call for shorthand capabilities.

Searching 1366 administration jobs on Seek, he found only five required some degree of shorthand.

Neither Wellington Institute of Technology nor Victoria University teach shorthand in business administration courses.

Digital technology now incorporates recording capability in all manner of devices.

However media experts agree that shorthand is essential for fast, accurate note taking and the skill remains compulsory to gain a journalism diploma in New Zealand.

In court, where digital recording devices are often not allowed, reporters rely on shorthand.

The editor of the Dominion Post, Tim Pankhurst, says the paper runs regular refresher courses for its staff and at least one reporter has a speed of 120 words per minute.

“Court reporting remains much the same as it always has, despite new technology.”

Picture: Journalism student practises shorthand by drilling outlines. 

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is is a Whitireia Journalism student who has a passion for music, fashion, films and contemporary novels. She plans to work in radio and television.
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