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Qualifications for Jobs in Word Processing Centers

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  • Jobs in word processing centers will be discussed in the order of their increasing difficulty.

  • Word Processor or Correspondence Secretary

This operator keyboards in dictation from voice-writing equipment, typing as rapidly as possible and correcting errors by using the typewriter's automatic erasing features. Sometimes the dictator wants only a rough draft so that corrections and changes can be made before a final copy is prepared. Most of the time, though, the key boarded material is played out into a usable document.

The word processor is responsible, too, for playing out stored mag cards or tapes when the same material is needed again. The whole document may be reproduced, or portions of different stored transcripts may be merged into new output.

Obviously, English skills are very important to the word processor, who must be able to spell and punctuate correctly. The operator must have, to an exceptional degree, the same first qualification required of a traditional secretary-an understanding of words and their correct usage in business communication. Since dictation is from a remote station, there is no opportunity to ask about terms, and the operator cannot make sensible transcripts without a thorough understanding of the business referred to in the dictation. This means that a topnotch word processor must be a highly intelligent person who knows a great deal about the organization's operations. Typewriting speed is not very important; accuracy is. Finally, a word processor must be interested in mechanical equipment and must understand its capabilities.
  • Proofreader-Trainer
A word processor who is superior in English mechanics and who displays the communications skills necessary for teaching would normally be promoted to proofreader-trainer.
  • Scheduler or Logger
The employee who schedules the work of the word processors is a specialized clerk. Some of the items noted on the control sheet prepared in this job are: an assigned number for the job; the nature of the dictation (report, table, instructions, or contract, for instance); nature of the copy (belt, handwritten copy, typing); quality required in output (rough draft or final copy); stationery required; storage (card or tape); length of storage (temporary or permanent); word processor to whom job is assigned; starting time; finish time; number of pages; and time of logging out. To maintain this record, the clerk must not only like detail and be meticulous in accuracy but also be able to make decisions about the output. Another important qualification is the ability to delegate the work of the word processors so that each person does a fair share.
  • Administrator or Supervisor
Administrative and supervisory jobs require the same competencies needed by anyone responsible for the performance of other workers. They are above the clerical classification; however, they are a possible promotion channel for the word processor. It is important to know, too, that many of the employees chosen to head newly established word processing centers are former traditional secretaries.

Reactions Of Management To Word Processing

A management consulting company has estimated that WP techniques can usually result in savings of 15 to 30 percent in clerical payroll and overhead for every 100 work stations placed under the program. One company says that production has doubled with WP-from 250-300 lines a day previously produced by typists at individual work stations to 500-800 lines a day by correspondence secretaries. Naturally, management is sold on the concept because of its cost-cutting features.

Management also is happy with word processing systems because they allow secretarial output to be measured. Under the traditional system, the only supervisor of output was the executive for whom the secretary worked; most executives were neither trained in nor especially interested in work measurement. Now, both the administrative support center and the word processing center are manned by someone who does know how to apply quality and quantity measurement standards.

Some executives, who regard secretaries as status symbols, resist reorganization of the secretarial function. They dislike dictating to a machine, and feel the concept is dehumanizing.

No more than 20 percent of today's offices are organized for word processing; many will never be. Yet progress is being made toward automating the offices of large organizations.

Reactions Of A Supervisor To Word Processing

Frances Lewis, manager of the Word Processing Correspondence Centers of The City University of New York, speaks favorably of the major transition that secretarial services have been undergoing under the name of word processing:

"Word Processing is the better way to handle the communication workload availing itself of the new technology, new procedures, and new organization of personnel. There is no doubt it is the system of the future."

"I believe a slow typist can and will improve speed while using the word processing equipment. However, language skills, such as Basic English and its proper use, are a bit more difficult to come by. This is probably the single most important area requiring a student's attention while still attending school and certainly thereafter."

"Our Center secretaries handle jobs for such a variety of departments-legal, academic, administrative, data processing, etc.-that their areas of expertise improve and grow, making them capable of handling diversified documents quickly and intelligently."

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