Baby boomer geoscientists say Australia is failing to make the most of the competitive job creation advantage provided by resources.
Opportunities in the industry are going begging as a generation which oversaw booming coal, base and precious metals and iron ore developments among others, retire.
The issue has been highlighted by an Australian Institute of Geoscientists report which shows that a third of the country’s geoscientists will reach retirement age in 10 years.
Geologist Jim Morrison has ‘failed retirement three times’ and at 76 years old is employed as a consultant with Townsville-based Map to Mine.
The industry was being undermined by tertiary education administrators, structural impediments and bad PR, Mr Morrison said.
“Yes, the dumbing down of university courses has been a problem for years,” he said. “This is largely due to the lack of vision of our governments. Lack of vision has led to a ‘bums-on-seats’ mentality of the government funding bodies.
“The more expensive nature of geology and mining-related courses encourages the universities to cut and/or amalgamate the courses and sack the expert lecturers required to keep the courses running.
“Attracting talented students used not to be a problem when creating jobs and wealth was seen as a positive nation-building activity. Now the general population seems to incorrectly view mining as anti-environment and does not encourage young people into its rewarding careers.”
Issues over land access had become so complicated it was an industry in itself, Mr Morrison said.
“These delays and costs are major impediments to the creation of future wealth for Australia. They should be borne by Government and not act to stop or delay the productive employment of young graduates as is now the case.
“Another major problem is the cyclical nature of the mineral industry which periodically wipes out layers of well-trained young talent, and discourages others from joining.
“Add to that partners who don’t want to leave coastal cities, and tax laws that encourage fly-in fly-out work to the detriment of inland areas. No wonder we have a recruitment problem.”