The Australian Bureau of Statistics is reviewing the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO), and the draft updates have raised concerns among HVAC&R industry stakeholders.
ANZSCO provides a basis for the standardised collection, analysis and dissemination of occupation data for Australia and New Zealand. It is intended to provide an integrated framework for storing, organising and reporting occupation-related information in both statistical and other analytical applications.
The classifications are important because they feed into policy on educational pathways, skilled migration programs and workforce strategies.
Consultation on the updates took place over three rounds in 2023, each round covering different industry-based focus areas. But after the updates were published in their preliminary form by the ABS, various HVAC&R stakeholders have questioned the new occupation definitions.
One issue is that Occupation 342111 – Airconditioning and refrigeration technician has been placed under the “repair and maintenance” focus area (along with Tyre Fitter and Sign Erector).
AIRAH Advocacy and Policy Manager Mark Vender believes the Airconditioning and Refrigeration Technician occupation should be placed under the Construction focus area, with other occupations such as Electrician and Mechanical Services Plumber.
“Air conditioning and refrigeration technicians design, install and commission HVAC&R systems, so ‘repair and maintenance’ only covers one part of their activities,” Vender says. “This occupation sits alongside the electrical and plumbing occupations as a trade of its own, with its own educational pathway and licensing frameworks.”
He also echoes concerns raised by other industry bodies about the overlap with occupation 334112 – Airconditioning and Mechanical Services Plumber.
“AIRAH has recommended that the name of occupation 334112 be changed to remove ‘Airconditioning’. This would create a clearer separation from occupation 342111 – Airconditioning and refrigeration technician. This is already reflected in state licensing frameworks, so changing the name will support a nationally consistent approach, and we believe it will help capture more accurate data.”
Finally, tasks have been added to all occupations, providing more detail about the work they do. But HVAC&R industry bodies have noted that some tasks under occupation 334112 are not part of the educational pathway for mechanical services plumbers.
One update that has been welcomed by HVAC&R industry bodies is a simple one. In response to a suggestion from the Australian Refrigeration Council (ARC), the name of occupation 342111 has been changed from Airconditioning and Refrigeration Mechanic to Airconditioning and Refrigeration Technician. Many feel that this better reflects the diverse skills required in the job.
According to the ABS, a final consultation round in 2024 will allow users the opportunity to provide feedback on the complete set of proposed changes prior to finalising the classification update for release by December 2024.
More information is available at the ABS Consultation Hub.