The office function in business and government contains many interesting opportunities for young people, but educational requirements are changing. Clerical jobs where one did a little filing, a little typing, a little duplicating, and perhaps relieved the switchboard operator a few hours each day have changed because clerical positions, like other office positions, have been affected by new office machines, such as instant copiers, automated and microfilmed files, programmed typewriters, and computers.
The term clerical worker is now rarely used in business. Clerical work has been absorbed into specializations which are given such titles as programmer, console operator, records librarian, tape librarian, keypunch operator, and computer room operator, to name a few. As offices become larger and more mechanized, specialization grows. The general clerk-a jack of all trades-is becoming extinct.
To be a specialist, one must focus on a particular cluster of skills and knowledge. For example, if you want to work in an electronic computer center, you must learn about information flow systems, data "banks," and programming. You must learn about input/output devices.
Not to be overlooked, however, because of the glamour of new job titles and specialization, is the importance of old, basic fundamentals when preparing for employment. The fundamentals - reading, writing and arithmetic - are still important. Do you understand what you read? Can you write clear instructions? Can you do simple arithmetic accurately? Are you dependable? Can you express yourself clearly? Do you have an agreeable behavior? Do you use good judgment? Do you get along with people? Do they enjoy working with you?
Getting work done accurately, dependably, and with a minimum of frustration and tension is still important where people work together. Yes, office jobs have changed during the past decade, and office equipment has become more automatic. There are new office job titles. The people, however, who work in offices, are not too different from those of yesteryear. There still is no substitute for dependability, judgment, cheerfulness, and competence. If you develop a good background, you can get results and move ahead in your occupational field. Confucius say, "Man like tack; go as far as head permits." Mr. Donald L. Fraehling, vice president of McGraw-Hill Book Company, focuses on another qualification-the ability to adjust to change. He explains:
"In this decade as in the past, the fastest-growing occupations are those that require technical training. By 1990 it is predicted that there will be as many professional and technical workers as blue-collar workers; and the clerical occupations with more than 17 million workers will be larger than any other occupational group."
"These occupational and industrial growth trends will mean that the office worker of the future will need to adjust to a constantly changing work environment. Of course, it will still be necessary to develop those technical skills, such as typewriting, transcription, accounting, and computing; however, the real opportunity for the clerical worker of the future will depend on how well he or she is able to cultivate the habits, attitudes, and interests that relate to learning, adjusting, and advancing on a job. The clerical worker who has developed this ability to adjust will be a candidate for the more challenging and interesting positions in the office of the future."
"Dr. Alan C. Lloyd, director of Career Advancement for Olsten Corporation, envisions the office as an exciting place, one in which talented individuals can specialize in fields of interest."
"Today the secretarial career is a glamorous one in the office. Also, people with abilities and talents different from those of secretaries are making it big in data processing, in word processing, in records management, in personnel administration, in traffic and inventory control, in advertising management, and in dozens of other support positions that have outgrown the familiar "clerical" classification. This excitement in the modern office has come about, at least in part, by the fact that offices are getting bigger; and the bigger they are, the greater is the opportunity for specialization. Specialization matters, for in it lies expertise, quickened interest, mounting importance-and money."
These statements indicate that some types of clerical positions will continue to increase in number-even with office work becoming more and more mechanized and automated. A clerk can be assured of employment for a long time to come, and for the highly competent, there will be opportunities for advancement to higher clerical positions and to supervisory and administrative positions in the clerical area.