2900.0 - Census of Population and Housing: Understanding the Census and Census Data, Australia , 2016  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 08/11/2017  First Issue
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Occupation (OCCP)

This variable describes the occupation or main job held by employed people in the week prior to Census night. This variable is applicable to all employed persons aged 15 years or older.

How this variable is created

Occupation is a person variable and is mainly coded based on the write-in responses to the following questions on the Census form: occupation title and main tasks performed. Images of these questions are provided below.

Responses to the following questions on the Census form may also be used to assist quality occupation coding outcomes:

  • The employer's business name
  • The employer's industry
  • The main goods or services produced

Occupation is coded using the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO), 2013, Version 1.2, which builds on a review conducted in 2009 (ANZSCO First Edition, Revision 1).

ANZSCO Version 1.2 implements changes to the occupation (6-digit) level to add newly emerging occupations; delete or merge declining occupations; change titles of occupations and amend alternative titles or specialisation within an occupation. A small set of changes at the next highest level of the classification (the unit group) were made but were limited to changes in unit group titles, relevant lead statements and lists of tasks. More information about changes are available in the ANZSCO Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations, 2013, Version 1.2.

Occupation coding is reliant on a variety of processes. All text response fields that contribute to occupation coding are first auto-repaired before being sent through an auto-coding process. The auto-repairing resulted in approximately 57.0% of all Occupation responses being captured automatically and auto-coding resulted in a further 28.7% being coded. The remaining responses (14.3%) that did not successfully achieve a code were examined by ABS clerical staff and independently assessed for an ANZSCO code.

Where insufficient information is provided in a response for assigning an ANZSIC code. an 'Inadequately described' code is allocated during processing. In 2016, 1.0% of data for Occupation were coded to 'Inadequately described'.

Targeted Supplementary Questions (TSQs)

For the online 2016 Census forms, the coding approach was different to paper forms for occupation responses. Targeted Supplementary Questions (TSQs) were introduced in the 2016 online forms to clarify responses for Occupation topics and facilitate more accurate coding at the lower levels of the classifications. TSQ is sequenced into the questionnaire when the respondent uses a 'trigger word' to describe their occupation title. This triggers extra questions with predefined radio button response options to collect more details about the respondent's occupation in addition to the response they initially provided.

For example, if the word 'nurse' was entered as the occupation, this alone is insufficient information to assign a detailed occupation code. This triggered extra questions about what type of nurse the respondent is, i.e. enrolled or division 2 nurse, nurse practitioner, midwife, nurse manager, registered nurse and midwife, registered nurse or other (please specify).

The list of 'trigger words' was created by looking at common responses in the 'not further defined' coding categories of the classifications in the 2011 Census data. These are text responses that could not be coded to a more detailed category in the classifications (for example, the Occupation category 'Nursing and midwifery, not further defined').

Image: If the respondent entered in a trigger word, such as 'Nurse', a targeted supplementary question would be asked: 'In the main job held last week, what type of nurse was <person>?'

A text only version of the online Census Household form is available from the Downloads tab and pages 27-33 include the Occupation targeted supplementary questions.

Variable history

Questions relating to Occupation were first asked in the 1911 Census. Prior to the 1986 Census, a single question was asked about title of occupation. In 1986 a second question on main tasks or duties that a person usually performed in his or her job was included to improve the quality of coding. The questions have remained the same for subsequent Censuses with some revision of the examples and instructions only.

Apart from the introduction of targeted supplementary questions mentioned in the above section, minor changes have been made to the dot point instructions for the occupation question in order to update the example responses and also include more specific examples.

Non-response rate

Unlike most Census variables, the non-response rate for Occupation is not affected by persons who did not return a Census form because this variable is only applicable to persons with a Labour Force Status as 'employed'. For more information, refer to Understanding Census data quality.

The non-response rate for this variable was 0.7% (0.8% in 2011).

Data usage notes

The introduction of targeted supplementary questions in the online Census has reduced 'not further defined' categories across some Occupations and classified responses into more detailed Occupation categories.

For example, counts of 'Midwifery and Nursing Professionals, not further defined', has decreased, while other nursing categories (Midwives, Nurse Educators and Researchers, Nurse Managers and Registered Nurses) have increased in 2016. Similarly, 'Engineering Professionals' has decreased significantly since 2011 and more detailed Occupation categories have increased (except for 'Mining Engineers' which is in line with real world changes).

Further information

A definition of Occupation is available in the 2016 Census Dictionary.

Household form question image

Questions 38 and 39 as they appeared on the 2016 Census Household Paper Form:

Image: 2016 Household Paper Form - Question 38. In the main job held last week, what was the persons occupation?
Image: 2016 Household Paper Form - Question 39. What are the main tasks that the person usually performs in that occupation?
Image: 2016 Household Paper Form - Question 40. For the main job held last week, what was the employer's business name?
Image: 2016 Household Paper Form - Question 42. What best describes the industry or business of the employer at the location where the person works?
Image: 2016 Household Paper Form - Question 43. What are the main goods produced or main services provided by the employer's business?

A text only version of the online Census Household form is available from the Downloads tab.