A national classification of occupations and the training they require is finally going to give bicycle mechanics the consideration the vocation deserves, in a full review of the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) being undertaken during 2023-24, says Bicycle Industries Australia general manager Peter Bourke.
He said the Level 5 applied to bike mechanics, the lowest rating under the classification, was not properly informed when ANZSCO was first implemented in 2006, which can impact negatively on the industry’s ability to access government assistance for training.
The BIA confirmed last month it will be forming an internal working group, in liaison with key industry members, to produce a submission to the staged review, which is set to consider bike mechanics – as part of a Repairs and Maintenance category – in the third quarter of 2023.
“The working group of BIA directors will pull in appropriate expertise, such as people currently providing bike mechanic training in Australia, as we look to put our submission together by August or September,” Peter said.
While there have been five reviews of ANZSCO since 2006, none have included the bike mechanic rating, which shares the bottom rung with shopping trolley collector, road crossing controllers and cinema ushers.
BIA has been lobbying for several years to have the bike mechanic rating addressed and, as a result, it was included in a preliminary reassessment last year prior to the current full review.
“This rating affects the training subsidies made available through State training bodies, along with the ability to allow skilled migration visas for international staff,” Peter said.
“It is inconceivable that a bike mechanic could be adequately skilled to work in the industry without significant levels of training, either on the job or through an institution.”
He said the Level 5 rating would suggest the initial ranking was done without a full understanding of the bicycle sector and responsibilities of mechanics – and without an opportunity for the industry to respond.
“Even taking out the electronics we have on bikes today, they road-going vehicles with a large number of mechanical moving components,” he added.
“Level 5 skills are categorised as “may require some on-the-job training”. With all the electrical, hydraulics and mechanical aspects involved with bike construction and maintenance, that definition does not match up with all the elements of being a bike mechanic.”
He said it is inconceivable that a bike mechanic could be adequately skilled to work in the industry without significant levels of training, either on the job or through an institution.
A rating upgrade to reflect that requirement would be central to addressing a national shortage of mechanics in the industry.
Peter said while increased status of the vocation and greater availability of training was vital for several reasons, safety for mechanics and bike users was among the most important.
“It’s about making sure they’re safe at work, particularly when the role increasingly involves working on bikes with electricity and lithium-ion batteries,” he said.
“And we’re talking about a product used to travel in heavy traffic, contrary to the continuing perception of bikes as toys among the proportion of the population.”
Peter said any adjustment in the bike mechanic rating was unlikely to occur before the end of 2024. At the end of the two-year review, all the proposed rating changes were expected to be considered at the same time by Federal parliament late next year.
“The changes must also be referred to every State and the NZ government to make sure they’re satisfied,” he said.