Sep 12, 2019

Geoscientists still struggling for work opportunities

Geoscientists still struggling for work opportunities

New survey results show employment opportunities for geoscientists across Australia are slowly improving, although Queensland saw a setback in such jobs last quarter.

The Australian Institute of Geoscientists reported disappointing results for the second quarter (April to June), with member survey results nationwide showing a rise in unemployment from 7.5 per cent at the end of March to 9.3 per cent at the end of June.

On the other hand, underemployment amongst self-employed geoscientists fell from 20.5 per cent to 14.9 per cent for the same period.

In Queensland the unemployment rate rose to 10.7 per cent in the June quarter and the underemployment rate was 19 per cent. 

The underemployment figure represents the proportion of self-employed geoscientists unable to secure more than one quarter of their desired workload.

“The depressed employment prospects for geoscientists are a surprise given mineral exploration expenditure rose during the June quarter according to Australian Bureau of Statistics figures released last week, although mineral exploration drilling declined,” AIG president Andrew Waltho said. 

“There is little doubt that junior exploration and mining companies especially are experiencing difficulty raising capital to fund new exploration and producers are having to deal with considerable uncertainty and price volatility, at least partly due to trade tensions between the USA and China.

“The increase in work secured by self-employed geoscientists is most welcome, especially in light of the sharp increase in under-employment observed in the previous survey.

“Long term unemployment is the big issue in these figures.  Half of Australia’s unemployed geoscientists have been without work for 12 months or more, and a similar number see no new opportunities on the horizon.

“Professional institutes, including AIG, are doing whatever we can to help members remain in touch with their colleagues and peers and maintain their skills, but it’s pretty hard to remain motivated when industry conditions appear to be stagnant.”

The lowest levels of both unemployment and under-employment were recorded in Western Australia. 

Unemployment amongst professional geoscientists there fell from 8.5 per cent at the end of March to 7.8 per cent at the end of June, while under-employment fell from 17.6 per cent to 11 per cent for the same period.

The survey was completed by 734 respondents nationally. 

Some 66 per cent of respondents worked or sought work in mineral exploration.  A further 18 per cent worked in metalliferous mining, while 5 per cent of respondents worked or sought work in energy resource exploration and production.

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