A commercial occupational survey of one hundred selected business firms of Houston, Texas, as a basis for recommending changes in the high school commercial curriculum



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Problem. The purpose of this study was to Investigate the employment needs for office workers and the job require ments of one hundred selected business firms of Houston, Texas, In order: (1) to determine the adequacy of the commercial curriculum of the local high schools to meet the employment needs; and (2) to recommend changes In the curriculum In accordance with the findings of the survey. Procedure. A survey was made of one hundred business firms selected from the classified section of the local telephone directory and from a list supplied by the Chamber of Commerce of Houston, Texas. The one hundred business firms surveyed employed a total of 6882 office workers. Representation was taken from large-size business, mediumsize business, and small-slze business. A combination questionnaire-Interview method was used to secure the data. Questionnaires were filled out by representatives of the business firms, or were completed in the presence of officials of the firms. The data secured by means of the questionnaire were placed in tabular form. Findings. The tabulated data revealed the following: (1) The 6882 office workers surveyed were distributed among six occupational classifications—bookkeepers, cashiers, and accountants; secretarial; general clerical; office machine operators; transportation and storage (clerical); and administrators and executives. (2) Female workers outnumbered male employees in all office job classifications except the transportation and storage (clerical) and the administrative and executive classifications. (3) The estimated job turnover was highest in the transportation and storage (clerical) classification and lowest in the administrative and executive group. The estimated job turnover was 26.2 per cent for all office workers. (4) A total of 59.4 per cent of the employers expressed a willingness to hire office employees at the age of eighteen or under. (5) Sixty-three per cent of the employers expressed a willingness to hire office employees with a minimum of a high school education. (6) The median beginning salary for all office employees was $38 a week. (7) Business firms used more key-driven calculators than crank-driven machines. (8) The four leading makes of typewriters were: Underwood, E. C. Smith, Remington, and Royal. (9) The Mimeograph was the leading duplicating machine. (10) Accuracy, efficiency, judgment, promptness and adaptability were the personal traits found to be lacking in high school graduates who sought employment in business offices. (11) The chief deficiencies in skill training were in arithmetic, spelling, penmanship, business machines, and the mechanics of business-letter writing. (12) Forty per cent of the businessmen expressed a willingness to participate in a cooperative part-time training program for students enrolled in office training courses. Conclusions and Recommendations. Interpretations of the data secured in this study served as a basis for the following conclusions and recommendations: (1) The commercial program of the Houston high schools is not meeting all of the employment needs of local business firms for office workers. Courses in business machines and office practice should be added to the present commercial curriculum in each of the senior high schools in order to supply the demand for trained office machine operators and general clerical workers.(2) In order to supply the demand for high school graduates with business training, special emphasis should be placed on vocational guidance to give students the facts regarding office occupations and employment requirements. (3) Since It Is evident that personal trait training Is not receiving adequate emphasis In the high school commercial program, a plan for Integrating the trait training with the training In every commercial subject should be developed. (4) In answer to the criticism of businessmen that high school graduates are deficient In arithmetic, spelling, and penmanship, a course In commercial arithmetic should be required of every student taking commercial courses who plans to go Into business. Spelling and penmanship should be Integrated with other courses; namely, English, secretarial training, typewriting, office practice, shorthand, and bookkeeping. Students falling to meet the minimum standards In arithmetic should be required to take remedial courses. (5) A cooperative part-time training program should be set up for those students taking office practice courses, secretarial training courses, and advanced bookkeeping courses. A plan similar to the distributive education program should be adopted, whereby students attend school part of the day and work on the Job for the remainder of the day. (6) Since the office equipment in the high schools is Inadequate for the training of students in the use of business machines found in local offices, it is recommended that the commercial departments of the senior high schools be equipped with the business machines which are commonly used in local business offices.