Geoscientist jobless rates reach new low

A new survey has recorded the highest number of unemployed geoscientists in Australia since records began

The results of the new Australian Geoscientist Employment Survey for the 2015 September quarter highlight continuing pressure in the mining industry, with little to no sign of improvement.

According to the report by the Australian Institute of Geoscientists (AIG), Australian geoscientist unemployment in the September quarter of 2015 was 15.5 per cent nationally, up slightly from the June quarter result of 15.2 per cent. 

The underemployment rate was 21.2 per cent, a major increase on the 19.9 per cent recorded in June. 

Every state recorded deterioration in the rates of unemployment and underemployment.

Victoria was the worst hit in terms of unemployment, with 26.5 per cent surveyed out of work – a huge leap from the 6.5 per cent in the previous quarter, although it did rate the best for underemployment,  recording a rate of 11.8 per cent, a drop from the previous rate of 22.6 per cent.

New South Wales and Queensland recorded positive results in terms of unemployment, seeing the rate shrink from 9.3 and 18.6 per cent respectively to 5.8 and 12.5 per cent.

However this was offset by the growing level of underemployment amongst self-employed geoscientists.

Both Western Australia and South Australia stayed relatively stable in terms of unemployment and underemployment.

According to the survey, almost 44 per cent of unemployed or underemployed geos had not worked for 12 months or more.

“This rate has been increasing steadily since June 2012 when collection of this data was added to the survey,” AIG stated. 

“The proportion of unemployed geoscientists who are seeking permanent, alternate employment has increased, as has the proportion who have little confidence of returning to employment in less than 12 months.”

AIG president Wayne Spilsbury said “the survey results demonstrate, without any doubt, that the ongoing depressed employment situation for geoscientists in Australia is really starting to bite”.

“If there was any doubt that financial market uncertainty, questions regarding long-term demand for commodities and depressed prices have a profound impact on exploration activity, these figures should dispel that,” he said.

Spilsbury went on to call on the government to support exploration in Australia, and reduce the burden on junior explorers.

“Investment in exploration also needs to be supported to promote sustainability and maintain Australia’s resource project pipeline, which underpins the nation’s economic prosperity, has a significant employment multiplier, and drives innovation which improves productivity and leads to the development of new goods and services.”

Some in the industry are taking steps to support juniors, with Rio Tinto announcing that laser mineral analysis technology developed by geoscientists at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Ore Deposit Science (CODES) over the last decade will be offered to junior explorers for free.

Junior miners themselves are facing a depressed future, with the current market conditions only likely to exacerbate the existing issues for geoscientists.


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