8693.0 - Consultant Engineering Services, Australia, 2001-02  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 03/07/2003   
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1 This publication presents results of employing consultant engineering businesses, for the reference year 2001–02. This is the fourth time the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has conducted this survey. Previous statistics were released for 1987–88, 1992–93 and 1995–96.


2 The scope of the survey was all employing businesses classified to class 7823 (Consultant Engineering Services) of the 1993 edition of the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC). This class comprises businesses predominantly engaged in the provision of consultant engineering services.


3 The frame used for consultant engineering services, like most ABS economic surveys, was taken from the ABS Business Register. The ABS Business Register is primarily based on registrations to the Australian Taxation Office's pay-as-you-go withholding (PAYGW) scheme, and prior to 1 July 2000 the group employer (GE) scheme. The frame is updated quarterly to take account of new businesses and businesses which have ceased employing.

4 Businesses which have ceased employing are identified when the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) cancels their PAYGW registration (or previously their GE registration). In addition, from July 1999, businesses which did not remit under the GE scheme for the previous five quarters were removed from the frame. A similar process has recently been adopted to remove businesses which do not remit under the PAYGW scheme.

5 The introduction of The New Tax System has a number of significant implications for ABS business statistics, and these are discussed in the Information Papers: ABS Statistics and The New Tax System (cat. no. 1358.0) and Improvements in ABS Economic Statistics [Arising from The New Tax System] (cat. no. 1372.0).


6 Data in this publication have been adjusted to allow for lags in processing new businesses to the ABS Business Register, and the omission of some businesses from the Register. The majority of businesses affected, and to which the adjustments apply, are small in size.

7 Adjustments have been made to include new businesses in the estimates in the periods in which they commenced operations, rather than when they were processed to the ABS Business Register. Adjustments of this type will continue to be applied in future periods.

8 For more information on these adjustments, please refer to the ABS publication Information Paper: Improvements to ABS Economic Statistics, 1997 (cat. no. 1357.0).


9 In the Consultant Engineering Survey, the statistical unit used to represent businesses, and for which statistics are reported, is the Australian Business Number (ABN) unit, in most cases. The ABN unit is the business unit which has registered for an ABN, and thus appears on the ATO administered Australian Business Register. This unit is suitable for ABS statistical needs when the business is simple in structure. For more significant and diverse businesses where the ABN unit is not suitable for ABS statistical needs, the statistical unit used is the type of activity unit (TAU). A TAU is comprised of one or more business entities, sub-entities or branches of a business entity within an Enterprise Group that can report production and employment data for similar economic activities. When a minimum set of data items is available, a TAU is created which covers all the operations within an industry subdivision (and the TAU is classified to the relevant subdivision of the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC)). Where a business cannot supply adequate data for each industry, a TAU is formed which contains activity in more than one industry subdivision and the TAU is classified to the predominant ANZSIC subdivision.

10 Further details about the ABS economic statistical units used in this survey, and in other ABS economic surveys (both sample surveys and censuses), can be found in Chapter 2 of the Standard Economic Sector Classifications of Australia (SESCA), 2002 (cat. no. 1218.0).


11 Annual data for consultant engineering businesses is published in Australian Industry (cat. no. 8155.0). There are important differences between the statistics published in the Australian Industry and Consultant Engineering Services publications and users should use caution when making comparisons between the two sets of estimates. The estimates in the Australian Industry publication provide a consistent annual measure of economic activity by industry (as defined by the ANZSIC), which allows the analysis of year on year change in key data items for consultant engineering businesses.

12 The Australian Industry publication presents summary statistics for detailed ANZSIC classes. The aims of the publication are to show the relative importance of each industry class to the Australian economy, and to allow patterns of change of growth to be analysed across detailed segments of the Australian economy. The industry estimates presented in Australian Industry are used in the compilation of National Accounts, and in the derivation of economy-wide indicators such as gross domestic product (GDP).

13 The Consultant Engineering Services publication complements the annual series of key data items for the industry with a detailed examination of the structure of consultant engineering businesses for the reference year of the survey.

14 The main difference between the estimates for the two surveys was coverage of non-employing units in Australian Industry.


15 While comparisons are made between 2001–02 and earlier survey results, the reader should bear in mind that the survey has not been designed to support accurate estimates of change and should exercise caution. It should be noted that compared to the 1995–96 and 2001–02 surveys, the 1987–88 and 1992–93 surveys used a different source for identifying the population of consultant engineering businesses.


16 Data was collected from the Australia-wide operations of each consultant engineering business. Businesses which operated in more than one state or territory, were asked to provide a dissection of total income, employment and wages and salaries to enable state and territory statistics to be compiled and comparisons undertaken.


17 When interpreting the results of a survey, it is important to take into account factors that may affect reliability of the estimates. Such factors can be classified as either sampling or non-sampling error. The estimates presented in this publication are subject to sampling and non-sampling error.

18 The estimates in this publication are based on information obtained from a sample of businesses in the surveyed population. Consequently, the estimates in this publication are subject to sampling variability, that is, they may differ from the figures that would have been obtained if all units had been included in the survey. One measure of the likely difference is given by the standard error (SE), which indicated the extent to which an estimate might have varied by chance because only a sample of units was included.

19 There are about two chances in three that a sample estimate will differ by less than one SE from the figure that would have been obtained had a census been conducted, and approximately 19 chances in 20 that the difference will be less than two SEs.

20 Sampling variability can be measure by the relative standard error (RSE) which is obtained by expressing the SE as a percentage of the estimate to which it refers. The RSE is a useful measure in that it provides an immediate indication of the percentage errors likely to have occurred due to sampling, and this avoids the need to refer also to the size of the estimate.

21 The following table contains estimates of RSEs for a selection of the statistics presented in this publication.


Businesses at end June
Employment at end June
Income from engineering services
Other income
Labour costs
Direct payments to contractors and
Other expenses
Operating profit before tax
Operating profit margin
Industry value added

22 As an example of the above, the estimate of total income for consultant engineering businesses is $9,342 million (table 1.1) and the RSE for this item is 5.2 percent, giving an SE of $485.8 million. Therefore, there would be two chances in three that, if all units had been included in the survey, a figure in the range of $8,856.2 million to $9,827.8 million would have been obtained, and 19 chances in 20 (i.e. a confidence interval of 95%) that the figure would have been within the range of $8,370.4 million to $10,313.6 million.

23 Errors other than those due to sampling may occur in any type of collection and are referred to as non-sampling error. From this survey, non-sampling error may result from such things as deficiencies in the register of units from which the sample was selected, non-response, and imperfections in reporting by respondents. Inaccuracies of this kind are referred to as non-sampling errors and they may occur in any collection, whether it be by census or sample. Every effort has been made to reduce non-sampling error to a minimum by careful design and testing of questionnaires, efficient operating procedures and systems, and appropriate methodology.


24 Data contained in the tables in this publication relate to consultant engineering businesses which operated in Australia at any time during the year ended June 2002. Counts of businesses include only those businesses that were operating at 30 June 2002.


25 For information about these statistics, or the provision of unpublished data, please contact Ann Santo on 03 9615 7910.


26 ABS publications draw extensively on information provided freely by individuals, businesses, governments and other organisations. Their continued cooperation is very much appreciated; Without it, the wide range of statistics published by the ABS would not be available. Information received by the ABS is treated in strict confidence as required by the Census and Statistics Act 1905.

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