Educational Needs of Office Professionals
A better trained and educated workforce has been directly associated with increased productivity, improved morale and higher earnings for workers (Gentry & Springer, 2002).
There has been slow progress in developing comprehensive and responsive secondary education across states and school districts nationwide. Furthermore, the need for challenging curricula in U.S. schools is widely recognized (Archambault et al., 1993). The current level of educational achievement for the typical office professional in this state, though, is largely unknown.
In order to develop appropriate curricula for secondary students intending to pursue careers in administration, it is important to determine what classes and content should be offered. To this end, as the chair of the State Education Department, this researcher conducted a study examining the educational needs of office professionals by developing a quantitative and qualitative questionnaire and conducting a randomized state study of professional office workers.
Methodology. Based on a critical review of the relevant literature, a three-part survey form was created for this project; the first section was comprised of several demographic questions; the second section consisted of a series of Likert-scaled questions ranging from Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree, with a neutral “No Comment/No Opinion” option provided. The third section of the survey was an open-ended comment section designed to provide respondents with an opportunity to share insights, observations and anecdotal accounts concerning their educational experiences and needs. The survey was requested to be completed by every state office professional whose state payroll identification number ended in an odd number. This approach at randomization resulted in a potential pool of respondents of 3,500, of which 500 completed and returned their survey in time for inclusion in the data analysis for this analytical report. The statistical data was analyzed using an Excel spreadsheet, and comments in the open-ended section will be reported verbatim in an attachment to the final report.
Limitations. No further attempts at randomization were made beyond the designation of the odd-numbered state payroll identification terminators. Further, while 500 responses provides some useful insights and potentially valuable feedback, a more comprehensive survey of state office professionals should be conducted in the future.
Findings. The average age of the respondents was 37.3 years; 47% of the respondents were male and 53% were female. The average length of employment with the state was 6 years 4 months, and the average salary reported was $37,300.00. The educational levels reported by the respondents are shown in Figure 1 below:
Figure 1. Educational Breakdown of Survey Respondents.
Fully 79% of the respondents indicated they strongly believed or agreed (51 and 28% respectively) that the state’s secondary education system should provide more emphasis on e-commerce and computer-based training. Interestingly, more than half strongly agreed or agreed (37 and 20% respectively) that secondary schools should incorporate well-designed distance learning programs into their curricula as well.
Conclusions and Recommendations.
The research showed that more education is directly tied to improvements across the board for both employees and employers, and that such education must be relevant in order to be effective. Therefore, based on the research and the results of the survey, it is recommended that:
Secondary schools should expand their offerings for computer-based training;
Secondary schools should incorporate well-designed distance learning applications where appropriate; these should not be used to replace classroom-based learning, but should be designed to supplement such educational regimens by allowing students to access lesson plans, lecture notes, and additional reading lists, as well as participate in threaded discussions concerning issues of topical interest as guided by a faculty member.
Archambault, F.X., Westberg, K., Brown, S.B., Hallmark, B.W., Emmons, C.L., & Zhang, W.
(1993). Regular classroom practices with gifted students: Results of a national survey of classroom teachers (RM 93102). Storrs: The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented, University of Connecticut.
Gentry, M. & Springer, P.M. (2002). Secondary Student Perceptions of Their Class Activities
regarding Meaningfulness, Challenge, Choice, and Appeal: An Initial Validation Study.
Journal of Secondary Gifted Education, 13(4), 192.
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