Letter to the editor: We would be lost without our administrative professionals


Wednesday, April 27, 2022, was Administrative Professional Day.

In every office building we enter, the first person we meet is an administrative professional. The appearance and behavior of your first-line staff can help or hurt a business's reputation.

Just imagine your office without someone to organize the daily operations of your business. Most managers and other team members would become lost and frustrated due to their lack of knowledge about the functions of their own offices.

As an office coordinator looking to improve my computer skills, the administrative office technology (AOT) degree was a perfect fit. The AOT program taught skills that improved the administrative professional's performance on the job. For example, some AOT programs courses in advanced Microsoft Excel, Word, customer service and business communications. They also allowed students to receive multiple Microsoft certifications and actual job experience with their internship program before graduating.

With a need for administrative professionals with professional maturity and college experience, many colleges have removed the AOT program from their program offerings. The elimination of programs like these has been suffering from low enrollment for years for various reasons, like failure to adjust to industry trends and no recruitment and marketing of these programs. But some main reasons are that "no one wants to be a secretary anymore," "I can do that task myself" or "I can look it up on YouTube and Google." However, when your business is booming, you will no longer have time to do these "meaningless" tasks you looked up on YouTube. When this occurs, you will be looking for an administrative professional to do them for you.

Many schools have terminated their AOT programs and revived them later. The revival of these former defunct AOT programs was due to an increase in the need for advanced skills commonly used in these programs to fit their service area's needs.

The administrative professional is one of the critical positions yet is one of the most under-appreciated. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, in 2016, nearly 4 million secretaries/administrative assistants were part of the U.S. workforce. However, the industry trend is that these are not new jobs but replacements for retired employees. The Department of Labor also states that the average minimum requirement to become an administrative professional is a high school diploma; however, it does not consider the increasing number of skills needed to perform advanced tasks associated with business data reporting and analysis. Due to the availability of Chromebooks, most high schools don't teach courses in Microsoft Office anymore, and the knowledge of those programs is a must in the business world.

So, the next time you give your "secretary" a last-minute card and a cheap flower arrangement on Administrative Professional Day, thank them for all they do sincerely. Remember, you would be lost without them.

Michael Minogue

A disappointed former AOT student