​Geoscience employment numbers fall again

After a slight recovery in geoscientist unemployment numbers prospects have again dimmed for the sector.

The last quarter saw the first bright light for an industry that has suffered heavily, with the end of September 2014 recording an unemployment rate of 13.5 per cent, down from 15.4 per cent in June.

However it has returned to form, with the latest Australian Geoscientist Employment survey showing an increase in unemployment figures, as “Australia’s geoscientists continue to struggle in response to a sustained downturn in employment prospects”.

The latest report shows unemployment rates have lifted a full 2 per cent for geoscientists, to 15.5 per cent for the December quarter.

The underemployment rate amongst self-employed geoscientists also rose from 15.4 per cent to 16.9 per cent for the quarter.

This rate of unemployment is the second highest since the Australian Institute of Geoscientist began its surveys in 2009, while the combined unemployment and underemployment rate of 32.4 per cent is also the highest recorded since the December 2013 quarter.

According to the survey 12.2 per cent of all unemployed geos lost their jobs within the last quarter, with close to 40 per cent having been unemployed now for more than a year.

Of the unemployed and underemployed, 66 per cent are not confident of returning to full time work with the next year, while six per cent are looking for work outside of the sector.

“The increase in unemployment amongst Australia’s geoscientists in the final quarter of 2014 will be seen as very disheartening by many in the profession” AIG president, Wayne Spilsbury, said.

“The employment downturn, since it peaked at the end of 2013 has shown little sign of improvement.

“The GFC in 2008 to 2009 was a short, sharp event,” Spilsbury said.

“The current, continuing downturn appears to be a product of depressed commodity prices contributing to a marked decrease in exploration that is essential to the sustainability of Australia’s minerals and energy resource industries and Australia’s prospects for continued economic prosperity.”

However despite the overall poor picture, Queensland and South Australia have both recorded a drop in their unemployment figures, falling from 16 per cent to 14.4 per cent and 10 per cent to 6.8 per cent respectively.

Yet this has done little to improve sentiment across the industry.

“In AIG we believe that the unemployment and underemployment rates for geoscientists in Australia are a reflection of the overall health of Australia’s exploration and mining industries and a barometer for the overall outlook for resources,” Spilsbury said.

“The industry is clearly suffering from flat economic conditions and increasingly onerous constraints affecting both access to land for exploration and, surprisingly, the relinquishment of land considered to be unprospective by current exploration licence holders.

“We continue to see Australian-listed, junior exploration and mining companies that are critically undercapitalised finding it difficult to attract new investment that lead to improved geological knowledge needed to both optimise the value of existing, known resources and to make new discoveries.” 

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