Improvement in employment conditions for geoscientists slows down

An improvement in employment prospects for professionals in Australia’s exploration and mining industry has slowed, according to the Australian Institute of Geoscientists’ (AIG) latest employment survey.

Geoscientist employment in Australia increased marginally in the June quarter compared to the previous three months, AIG revealed.

The latest survey found the unemployment rate amongst Australia’s geoscientists was 11.3 per cent at June 30, down from 12.1 per cent at the end of March.

The underemployment rate, however, increased from 18.3 per cent at March 30 to 19 per cent at June 30.

Australia’s self-employed geoscientists, independent contractors and consultants “continue to face difficult times with only half able to secure one quarter of their desired workload,” according to AIG.

The employment situation varies markedly between industry sectors, the Institute explained.

“The unemployment in mineral and energy resource exploration in this survey was 14.2 per cent, compared to 6.9 per cent in mineral and energy resource mining and production,” AIG said.

“The unemployment rate amongst geoscientists working in other fields, such as environmental geoscience, groundwater resource management, engineering geology, education and agriculture, was 4 per cent.”

Unemployment and underemployment rates also varied significantly between state, the survey found.

Western Australia, the only state to experience an increase, recorded the highest unemployment at 12.3 per cent, while South Australia registered the lowest unemployment rate at 4.2 per cent – the quarter’s leading improvement.

Underemployment was lowest in WA, highest in SA and increased in every state except WA and Queensland.

AIG spokesperson Andrew Waltho expressed concerns regarding the slow recovery in employment opportunities for geoscientists in Australia, particularly in mineral exploration.

“While our latest survey clearly shows that employment prospects for geoscientists are slowly improving generally, with four of the past five surveys recording a decrease in the unemployment rate, exploration activity remains low,” Waltho said.

“This has serious implications for the sustainability of Australia’s mining industry by threatening the strength of our mineral resource project pipeline.

“Both greenfield and brownfield exploration is essential if discoveries are to be made to replace, let alone expand, the resource base on which miners produce essential minerals on which our society and economy relies.”

Waltho said addressing land access concerns and areas of sovereign risk – two issues that are raising the risk profile of exploration for investors – would improve employment prospects for geoscientists.