Just when Local Authorities are dispensing with PAs the private sector is reinventing the post.
Now that managers have lap tops and tablets typing is no longer women's work (Hold my calls, Mr Jones http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/oct/13/jobless-male-graduates-secretarial-work-pa ) now that managers have mobile phones they don't need someone else to answer it for them so typists and secretaries are a thing of the past. After all what would be the point in getting someone to print off all your emails so you could read them and then dictate a reply. Why do you need someone else to check if you can fit a meeting in when it's more a case of whether you think it is a waste of time rather than whether you have the time. PAs have only lasted this long in LAs because they were status symbols .The chief executive has one so the Directors need one and aspiring senior managers share one. In a harsh financial climate it was only a matter of time before having your own office and your own PA would mark you out as unreformed. What better evidence of your modern outlook and your reforming zeal than to be the first to give up your office and dispense with your PA all possible due to your embrace of modern technology.
So it is rather disconcerting to hear that the private sector is reinstating PAs. However these are not the old style PAs these are ambitious young graduates who view the opportunity to be a PA to a chief executive or director as a way to learn about being a senior manager from close quarters. They are in at all the important meetings, they see how decisions are made. They don't do admin they do projects. They don't type reports they write them. These PA s are more likely to be men than women reflecting the enhanced status and pay for the role. They see themselves as unofficial deputies they may not have the status and authority of senior managers but they have the power and influence. This type of PA role is a fast track to senior management and is viewed as such within the organisation.
Blair McPherson author of UnLearning management published by Russell house www.blairmcpherson.co.uk