We Asked, You Said, We Did

Below are some of the issues we have recently consulted on and their outcomes.

We asked

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) commenced public consultation on June 29 2022 on two topics related to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO).

Public consultation ran for four weeks, seeking feedback on:

  • how skills are reflected in ANZSCO, and
  • a new approach to maintaining ANZSCO.

You said

This public consultation generated 105 submissions from a wide range of stakeholder groups and sectors of the user community.

Skills in ANZSCO

The ABS published a ‘Skills Options Paper’ in late June in response to feedback received from the skills problem statement. The paper outlined six proposals that address the key areas of concern identified by users and stakeholders. The ABS received 63 submissions through public consultation.

Feedback in the submissions indicated support for most of the proposals with a very strong preference for proposals one and two. These proposals were flagged as the highest priority and, if implemented, would ensure ANZSCO is better aligned with the current labour market.

The ABS also asked for suggestions on how to include micro-credentials in ANZSCO. A variety of suggestions were received and are now being considered. As responses were varied, further discussions with users and stakeholders are required to determine how best to reflect micro-credentials in the classification.

Maintaining ANZSCO

The ABS received 42 submissions from users on the ANZSCO Maintenance Strategy. There was unanimous agreement that the classification no longer accurately reflects the labour market and that major updates are urgently required.

We specifically sought feedback on the timing, frequency and process for reviewing areas of the classification. While our proposed solution of a targeted, annual maintenance model received widespread support, several concerns were raised. These include:

  • the gap of 5 years between major updates may be too large to capture important changes in the labour market
  • without an immediate comprehensive update, maintenance will be ineffective
  • proposed prioritisation factors miss important considerations around the economic impacts and specific impacts on affected sectors (especially where they are small)
  • users do not have a way to raise issues outside of the consultation rounds
  • level of engagement by ABS will be insufficient if not consulting with industry, and education and training authorities.

We also asked users whether there would be any negative impacts that could arise from the implementation of the model, especially around the timing of updates. No issues were identified, and there was strong support for the timing of the releases. There were additional comments around the importance of aligning implementation around broader government measures to address skills shortages.

We also received a number of considerable change requests for specific areas of the classification, ranging from paramedics to professional organisers. These will be addressed separately as part of the comprehensive review and update by December 2024 in time for the 2026 Census.

We did

Skills in ANZSCO

The ABS is currently reviewing these submissions and working closely with stakeholders to develop a Skills Position Paper, for release in November 2022. This paper will outline the position of the ABS and the changes that will be made to better reflect skills in ANZSCO.

A proposed intended timeline for implementation will also be included.

Maintaining ANZSCO

Based on the feedback provided through this consultation process, the ABS has reviewed elements of the ANZSCO Maintenance Strategy. Several adjustments have been made, particularly with the prioritisation framework. These will be published in a revised version of the ANZSCO Maintenance Strategy in November 2022.

Other concerns raised will require further exploration, for example, the need for updates outside the outlined consultation periods. These will be considered further across the next two years, ahead of finalisation of the strategy in early 2025.

If you have an interest in changes to ANZSCO and would like to subscribe to receive communication regarding future updates please provide contact details via anzsco.maintenance@abs.gov.au


We asked

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) commenced public consultation on March 1 2022 on three topics related to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) to inform the next and future updates of the classification.

Public consultation ran for 6 weeks, seeking feedback on:

  • construction-related trades occupations
  • how skills are reflected in ANZSCO, and
  • other areas of ANZSCO requiring future update.

You said

This public consultation generated 137 submissions from a wide range of stakeholder groups and sectors of the user community.

2022 targeted update

Continuing the review work that commenced in 2021, the ABS sought feedback on a proposed list of 24 construction-related trades occupations to be a focus for 2022.

The list was developed in consultation with the Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE), based on the following criteria:

  • occupations in ANZSCO Major Group 3 Technicians and Trades Workers at skill level 3,
  • occupations with significant Australian Apprenticeships commencements,
  • occupations traditionally associated with an apprenticeship pathway, that were not included in the 2021 update, and
  • the number of persons employed in the occupation in the 2016 Census of Population and Housing are significant.

Also included were a small number of occupations that were engineering-related rather than construction, but which also satisfied the above criteria.

The ABS received nine submissions from users on these 24 construction-related trades occupations. A common theme across feedback indicated that civil (infrastructure) construction occupations described in ANZSCO no longer accurately reflect the modern workforce and in some instances lack visibility within the classification. Changes to skill in the modern labour market has meant that some of these occupations described in ANZSCO appear to lack sufficient detail, and no longer reflect the range of skills and competencies required to undertake these occupations.

However, feedback reflected broad support for the current definition of residential and commercial occupations in ANZSCO, with some suggested additional occupation categories and minor definitional changes to reflect contemporary practice.


The ABS recognises that there is demand for a review of how skills are reflected in the classification. An initial set of key issues were defined with our partners and a skills problem statement drafted for consideration by users.

The ABS received thirteen submissions from users supportive of work to improve how skills are reflected in the classification. These submissions provided feedback on the five key issues that were highlighted in the skills problem statement and provided some further suggestions based on other international frameworks for ABS to consider.

Other areas of ANZSCO

The ABS received a further 115 submissions identifying areas of the classification users would like updated to reflect the occupations of a contemporary Australian workforce. Feedback was received from a wide range of industries including health and community services, professional services, manufacturing, technology, and the arts. Feedback will be assessed to assist with planning future updates.

We did

2022 targeted update

Based on user feedback the following 24 construction-related trades occupations are within scope for the 2022 targeted update. The ABS is now in the process of assessing the submissions on these to develop a set of proposed changes for further consultation in September 2022. 

322211 Sheetmetal Trades Worker   332211 Painting Trades Worker
322311 Metal Fabricator                    333111 Glazier
322313 Welder (First Class)               333211 Fibrous Plasterer
323211 Fitter (General)                      333212 Solid Plasterer
323212 Fitter and Turner                   333311 Roof Tiler
323313 Locksmith                              333411 Wall and Floor Tiler
331111 Bricklayer                               334111 Plumber (General)
331112 Stonemason                           334112 Airconditioning & Mechanical Services Plumber
331211 Carpenter and Joiner            334113 Drainer/Drainlayer
331212 Carpenter                               334114 Gasfitter
331213 Joiner                                      334115 Roof Plumber
332111 Floor Finisher                         394111 Cabinetmaker

The remaining Emerging Occupations identified by the National Skills Commission (NSC) that were unable to be included in the ANZSCO 2021, Australian Update will  be reviewed as part of the 2022 targeted update. These Emerging Occupations comprise of new, frequently advertised jobs which are substantially different to occupations already defined in the ANZSCO. The following Emerging Occupations are within scope for the 2022 targeted update:

Data Analyst                Fundraiser                   Hazardous Materials Labourer

Data Architect             Risk Analyst                 Patient Liaison

Data Engineer             Logistics Analyst

Data Scientist              Regulatory Affairs Specialist

The ABS will also assess these occupations and develop a set of proposed classification changes for further consultation in September 2022.

The ANZSCO 2022, Australian Update will be released on the ABS website in November 2022, along with a complete list of classification changes.


Issues identified by users with the way in which skills are currently reflected in ANZSCO will inform a paper for public consultation in late June 2022.  This will outline the position the ABS has reached with stakeholders regarding how skills should be reflected in the future. Details will be provided on how any changes would be applied, and feedback will be sought on whether the position the ABS has reached has any unintended impacts for the broader user community.

The agreed position on how skills should be reflected in ANZSCO will inform the comprehensive update of ANZSCO and its ongoing maintenance. Agreed recommendations will be implemented over time.

Other areas of ANZSCO

The ABS is committed to continuing the work with our stakeholders to deliver a targeted update of the occupations within scope for 2022 as described above.

Additionally, the Australian government recently announced $23.7million of new funding over 4 years for the ABS to undertake a comprehensive update of ANZSCO (for delivery by December 2024) and commence an ongoing maintenance program in 2025. This measure will enable the ABS to commence review of the remaining areas of the classification yet to be updated from July 2022. This will be the first major update to the classification since 2006.  It will include some structural and classification-wide changes, in time for use by the Census 2026 program.

A prioritisation framework will be used to assess submissions against a range of factors to determine the relative priority for the schedule of future review work. Submissions received by the ABS to date, including from this consultation process, will be taken into account.

The ABS is working on a delivery plan for this extensive program of work and will release further information on the schedule of review work and when stakeholder input will be sought.

If you have an interest in changes to ANZSCO and would like to subscribe to receive communication regarding future updates please provide contact details via anzsco.maintenance@abs.gov.au

We asked

In October 2021, the ABS consulted with users of international trade statistics on priorities for enhancing the quality and breadth of data on  international services statistics, and on changes to content and timing of the monthly international trade publication.’Enhancing the quality of Australia’s international trade statistics’, outlined the planned and proposed changes to the international merchandise trade publication and the planned and proposed enhancements to services statistics.  

You said

10 submissions were received, these came from across federal government, state government and industry. A summary of the feedback can be seen below.

Monthly merchandise trade publication options

Respondents were asked to comment on two publication options. See consultation papers for more information on the options.

Option 2 was the preferred publication, with over 80% of respondents choosing this preference. The main reason cited for option 2 as the preference was the inclusion of seasonally adjusted data.

Services enhancement projects

Respondents were asked to prioritise the projects (1 through to 4) which were aimed at enhancing the quality and breadth of international trade in services statistics. Those projects were:

  • More frequent detailed services statistics;
  • Statistics on characteristics of service traders;
  • Monthly indicator statistics; and
  • Other (to be specified).

More frequent detailed services statistics were rated as the highest priority. Respondents also noted a strong interest in more detailed multi-dimensional cross classified data. The second highest priority was statistics on characteristics of service traders, closely followed by monthly indicator statistics.

Additional feedback

In addition, while respondents recognised the need to change and create opportunities for enhancing the international trade in services statistics, they acknowledged that with the imminent reopening of international borders, access to the full suite of monthly international trade data was critical in the short term for informing policy and insights around the COVID-19 recovery.

We did

Given the additional feedback on changes to the monthly trade publication, The ABS has decided, that in the short term, we will continue to produce the International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia publication in its current form, with no changes to timing or content. The ABS will look to revisit discussions with users on the original options proposed as part of this consultation through 2022. The feedback received on the publication options and services enhancement projects will be used to help inform these discussions.  

Of the services enhancements, the immediate focus will be to enhance the quarterly Survey of International Trade in Services, with a particular focus on moving the survey collection timing in line with the reference period. The priority and timing of other services enhancement projects (as outlined in the paper), is still being discussed, noting further enhancements may not be possible in the short term while the extended set of international trade data continue to be produced. More information on the service enhancement projects will be made available in 2022.

We asked

In preparation for the 2021 edition of the Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) the ABS has been consulting with stakeholders to ensure this framework is still meeting user needs. Between May and July 2019, we invited all stakeholders to contribute their views and provide feedback on the ASGS.

You said

A total of 75 submissions were received with major representations from Commonwealth Government Departments (22%), State Government Departments (18%) and Businesses (18%).

A summary of feedback is presented below:

Urban Centres and Localities

  • 67% of respondents were positive about using Mesh Blocks as the building blocks of Urban Centres and Localities. They noted that urban areas would be more accurately defined using Mesh Blocks, especially on the fringe of urban centres. 5% of respondents were negative about the proposed changes, with the main concerns being: less data available at the Mesh Block level and less stability over time.
  • Regarding allowing non-contiguous Urban Centres, 37% of respondents did not foresee any issues, noting that it would provide a more accurate definition of urban and rural areas. However, 19% of respondents did raise issues such as; difficulties in spatial analysis, difficulties in mapping Urban Centres, and non-contiguous Urban Centres crossing other boundaries (such as Local Government Areas).
  • 76% of submissions supported the inclusion of a Rural Residential category, with no oppositions to the inclusion. Respondents commented on the increasing need for a definition of this type of settlement to enable consistent statistical analysis.
  • The density criteria proposed for identifying Rural Residential Mesh Blocks received a wide range of responses. 47% or respondents supported the proposed criteria and 5% did not. Supportive respondents agreed that the proposed density criteria of >25 psns per sqkm would accurately reflect areas of rural residential character. However, there was concern from other respondents that this density threshold would be too low and capture some rural areas as a result.

Commonwealth and State Electoral Divisions

63% of respondents were positive and 5% were negative about building CEDs and SEDs from Mesh Blocks rather than SA1s. Respondents who were positive said that this change will result in more accurate electoral boundary approximations and allow for more precise data analysis. However, there was also concern around having less data available at the Mesh Block level.

Environmental Boundaries

65% of respondents said that they do not use Natural Resource Management Regions (NRMRs) and Australian Drainage Divisions, and only 9% of respondents find them to be useful.

A number of other environmental boundaries were suggested for inclusion in the ASGS, these included:

  • Flood maps
  • Water and sewerage distribution areas
  • Climate classifications
  • Weather districts

Coding Structure

On the removal of short codes for SA1s and SA2s, 43% were positive and 12% were negative. Many see the use of two different codes confusing, and consider that long codes are preferable as they are clear and hierarchical. The main reasons why respondents were not supportive of this change were that; short codes are easier to display, they are easier to reference, and it is difficult to change systems that have already integrated short codes.

Improving the ASGS and Design Principles

Overall, respondents were supportive of the ASGS design principles and thought they were comprehensive. Coherence was commonly recognised as being the most important principle, especially as it contributes to stability and consistency across the statistical boundaries. Consistency around growth areas was identified as an issue, along with ASGS boundaries needing to be consistently named across ABS products. Additionally, several comments were made in relation to the Interpretability principle, particularly that more effort should be placed on the alignment of boundaries to significant and stable boundaries.

A total of 49 specific boundary change requests were received, ranging from SA4 down to SA1 level. Each of these detailed boundary suggestions will be considered in 2021 design.

We did

The ABS has analysed these submissions in detail and incorporated the input into our decision making process for design of ASGS Edition 3. An information paper outlining the broad changes to the ASGS as a result of this consultation and routine review was published in September 2020.  

ASGS Edition 3 will be published from mid-2021. Please see the ABS Geography homepage for further details and updates.

We asked

In late 2017, the ABS began consulting with key users of Census data to determine whether there should be changes or additions to the topics to be included in the 2021 Census. Between April and June 2018, a formal consultation process invited all interested parties to contribute their views on the topics that are important to be collected in the next Census. Emerging data needs and details of the consultation were outlined in a publication released on 3 Apr 2018 (cat. no. 2007.0 - Census of Population and Housing: Consultation on Topics, 2021).

You said

In total, 450 submissions were received, with 315 published with consent on the ABS Consultation Hub. A summary of results and topic directions being explored by the ABS were published on 14 Nov 2018 in cat. no. 2007.0.55.001 - Census of Population and Housing: Topic Directions, 2021.

We did

Recommendations will be presented to Government in mid-2019 for decision on the 2021 Census topics. The final list of topics to be included in the Census will be published by the ABS in an information paper (cat. no. 2008.0) expected to be released in late 2020.