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Shorthand: a useful skill or a relic of the past?


With the rise in prominence of technology in the workplace, is there still a need for support team members to use shorthand?

In years gone by, shorthand was a mandatory part of any secretarial training and a ‘must-have’ in the arsenal of a business support professional’s knowledge. But as digital recording devices and laptops bring minute-taking into the 21st century, the requirement on job specifications for a proficiency in shorthand is rarely seen.
Despite the lack of formal requirements for a proven track record of shorthand expertise, there is still value in maintaining or investing in this traditional skill. Many of our candidates who know shorthand report that they use it regularly, in both their personal and professional lives. Workplace situations where knowledge of shorthand can prove useful include:
  • Taking long or complicated phone messages
  • Recording rapid verbal instructions from a manager
  • Environments in which audio recorders are forbidden, like court or certain medical situations
  • Confidential board meetings
Additionally, if you’re looking to refer back to certain information quickly, referring to a page of shorthand notes is far faster than rewinding back and forward through an hour of audio.
There are certain professional environments that will favour shorthand skills, like law firms, medical surgeries and public sector departments, but the ability to comprehensively capture information at a moment’s notice will be valued by all employers.
“It’s a skill, like a foreign language, that can set you apart and is worth persevering with”, according to Claire Ashley, director of Page Personnel Secretarial & Business Support.
There are several types of shorthand in use, some of the most common being Gregg, Pitman and Teeline. If you’d like to learn from scratch, or brush up on your skills, courses are available through the following organisations.
  • The London School of Journalism
  • Pitman Training
We asked the same question on our Page Personnel Secretarial & Business Support group on LinkedIn. To get involved in the discussion, please join us now.