Employment prospects for geoscientists start to see positive outlook

Job prospects for Australia’s geoscientists are showing signs of improvement with falling rates of unemployment.

The latest research from the Australian Institute of Geoscientists (AIG) has shown the rate has fallen this June quarter compared to the year before and is the first sign of improvement in the sector in two years. However, the outlook is still grim as more geoscientists are looking to find job opportunities elsewhere.

The survey shows that at June 30, the unemployment rate was 15.9 per cent and underemployment rate 20.2 per cent, compared to March figures of 19.5 per cent and 23.4 per cent respectively.

Despite the decline, the unemployment rate is still above last year’s figures.

Both unemployment and underemployment decreased in all states except South Australia, which had an increase in self-employed geoscientists. SA also had the highest combined rate of unemployment and underemployment, followed by QLD, NSW and ACT.

Victoria and WA had the biggest improvement in unemployment and underemployment rates.

One of the greatest concerns among geoscientists was long-term unemployment, with the proportion of those without work for more than 12 months increasing from 49 per cent to almost 60 per cent.

Two per cent more geoscientists indicated they were leaving the profession to find roles with better employment opportunities.

For the first time, respondents were questioned over their type of employment, reinforcing the importance of junior miner and explorers as well as smaller contracting and consulting groups. These sectors accounted for nearly 50 per cent of all geoscientist jobs in Australia.

The AIG says this is often overlooked by both state and federal governments who mainly focus on the major mining companies which employ only 19 per cent of Australian geoscientists.

AIG president Mike Erceg said the positivity in the employment prospects was welcome news, however prolonged improvement was still necessary.

“We need, however, to see improvement in the unemployment and underemployment rates over more than a single quarter before becoming too excited by the prospect of a turnaround in geoscientist employment opportunities,” he said.

Erceg added that the number of long-term unemployed geoscientists was a concern to AIG, and the group will continue to help members improve their skills and employment prospects through initiatives such as deferring membership fees, heavily discounting conference and seminar registration fees, and increasing networking events.

March 2016’s results broke the previous “worst” records, indicating the lowest employment conditions for the profession since the survey began in 2009.

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