8 September 2015

No signs of improvement for Geoscientists

No signs of improvement for Geoscientists No signs of improvement for Geoscientists No signs of improvement for Geoscientists

JOB PROSPECTS for local geoscientists have worsened further, with employment in the exploration sector crashing more than 15% in the first six months of the year.

New data from the Australian Institute of Geoscientists shows the combined unemployment and underemployment rate for geoscientists in Australia has now hit 35.1%.

The result is the worst since surveys started six years ago and is well above the 31.3% recorded at the peak of the global financial crisis in September 2009.

Breaking down the new figures, the unemployment rate for geoscientists at the end of June levelled at 15.2%, down marginally from the 15.5% recorded at the end of December.

Under-employment jumped 3% to 19.9%.

Of the geoscientists describing themselves as being self-employed, more than 36% were unable to secure more than 10% of the desired workload.

AIG said the feedback pointed to an actual unemployment rate of 22.6%, an increase of 1.2% in the six months since December.

On the positive side, jobs in energy resource exploration rose 7.7% and a small improvement was also recorded in the government sector. Mineral exploration jobs fell 15.5% in the first six months of the year, which AIG said highlighted a "looming crisis" in the sector. "The decline in mineral exploration employment is real," AIG council member Andrew Waltho said.

"What is more concerning though is that the increase in other sectors isn't an indication of increased opportunities, but instead due to their representation being increased due to mineral exploration's decline.

"In effect, they may have become a relatively larger piece of a much smaller pot, which would be a really serious prospect for Australian geoscience."

Among unemployed and underemployed respondents 17% lost work in the three months to June, while 35% said they had been unemployed for 12 months or more.

The percentage of geoscientists considering leaving the profession permanently almost doubled to 4.5% while 63% of unemployed and underemployed respondents saw little prospect of gaining new work in the next 12 months.

Of those in employment, 43% were confident of retaining their positions for the next 12 months.

"Geoscientists are aware of the cyclic nature of employment which, in Australia, reflects upswings and downturns in the fate of Australia's minerals and resource industries," AIG president Wayne Spilsbury said.

"The current downturn, however, is without present in the memories of Australian geoscience professionals."

The combined unemployment and underemployment rate for mineral exploration was the highest in New South Wales at 69% while the figure hit 56% in Queensland.

South Australia levelled at 50% while Victoria and the Northern Territory hit 40% and Western Australia recorded 37%.

This article first appeared on Mining News Premuim on Monday, 17 August 2015, written by Andrew Duffy. Click here to read the article as it first appeared