Update: Classification of Technical Writers in the ANZSCO standard

August 2017

A year ago TechCommNZ submitted a formal request to Statistics New Zealand - Tatauranga Aotearoa seeking a reclassification of technical writers in the ANZSCO standard, and a change in the main occupation name. Emma Harding reports on progress.

In July 2016, TechCommNZ formally submitted a paper to Statistics New Zealand - Tatauranga Aotearoa asking for the organisation to change the:

  • classification of technical writers in the ANZSCO standard, and
  • occupation name (from technical writers to technical communicators).

In our submission, we argued that our classification under Unit Group 2124 Journalists and Other Writers is completely inappropriate because it does not reflect the work we do.

Our expertise is not only in writing. We also provide business and user analysis, project and change management, training and implementation support. Technical communicators work across all industries, which may call for different tools, techniques, and adaptations. We write policies and procedures, manuals and instructions, system and equipment documents, web and application information. We use sophisticated content strategies to write, publish, and maintain complex information products through long life-cycles. We are not just writers, and we have little in common with professionals working in the Arts and Media.¹

How is our submission progressing?

Since then, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and Statistics New Zealand have discussed the future of the joint standard classifications (which cover occupation, industry, research and offence). According to Andrew Hancock, Senior Researcher at Statistics New Zealand, both organisations feel that it is critical to address the skill levels and the changes in occupations and there is increasing user demand for updates.

The ABS has a paper going to their governance board which is recommending that a major review of ANZSCO should start in the 2018-19 year. Any review will be subject to stakeholder agreement, funding, and other considerations.

In the meantime, Statistics New Zealand has added Technical Communicator as an entry on the coding index for the Technical Writer occupation. By getting an accurate count from the responses it will help us in justifying/arguing a change in title or the creation of a new occupation category.

The next New Zealand Census (6 March 2018) will be predominantly completed online so respondents can type in their answer. There is a strong argument for all people involved in technical communication to type into this field either “Technical Communicator” or “Technical Writer”, even if your actual job title is something else. If enough of us use these terms, Statistics New Zealand will get sufficient data to enable a change in our classification.

Why does this matter?

The two main reasons we need these issues addressed are that New Zealand needs more:

  • Technical communicators to support economic growth
  • Visibility of technical communication – as a career and as a service available to businesses in the knowledge economy

We need to work together on this important initiative.

  1. Classification of Technical Writers in the ANZSCO standard, July 2016.