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A Secretary's Role in the 21st Century

By Wendy Souter


The tag of ‘Secretary’ is being consigned to the history books as the new terms of ‘Assistant’ and ‘Administrator’ emerge. Gone is the old-fashioned image of her in spectacles being subservient to a dominant supervisor or boss.


The new role emerging is one which embraces all the modern technology which makes life far more interesting. The 21st Century Personal Assistant or Administrator is efficient in a number of ways, not just typing and making appointments but meeting and greeting, interviewing prospective employees, marketing and administration. This role is being filled not only by females but also by a vast number of men.

Does this pose a threat to the once female-dominated Secretarial profession? Perhaps but there are very few who will be shedding tears at the demise of the traditional ‘secretary’.


The role of Legal Secretaries, however, remains the exception to the rule. Their position is still firmly regarded as being of utmost importance. They have never been regarded as traditional secretaries as their work involves more intricate knowledge of law and confidentiality which allows them into the hallowed halls of law firms and courts. Still, even within those hallowed walls, many are turning their backs and upgrading to become Paralegals.


The traditional Secretary’s role in the 21st Century is definitely changing and quite rapidly.


Many personnel working within offices are now fully IT literate and many produce their own typing and drafting. The boss who gets his secretary to run errands and buys his spouse’s birthday presents has all but disappeared. To utilise such proficient employees in this way is now seen as wasting talent and better uses are being made of their talents.


Learning how to use a computer is not the only requirement for these rising stars. An Administration Skills and Techniques Course is vital as it enhances key areas of professionalism such as Interviewing Skills, Effective Writing and Communication, Client Care, Professional Conduct, Business Awareness and much more. 


Mastering English Language is also of great importance. English still remains paramount to effective communication, if one is aiming to be taken seriously within the work place.  A professional Administrator or PA must know the difference between ‘there’ and ‘their’, must not utter such phrases as ‘pre-planned’, ‘pre-relax’, ‘pre-order’, ‘pre-existing’ and must be capable of using correct punctuation, not inserting apostrophe everywhere they see an s!


Online colleges have become much more popular as a convenient way to obtain and update qualifications and they offer a more cost effective way of achieving them. Candidates do not have to expend hundreds in order to become qualified. Needless to say, care must be exercised when deciding where to study, as not all  courses offer the same standards.