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Latest Australian Geoscientist Employment Survey Reveals Little Good News

June Quarter Geoscientist Unemployment Falls but Rate Remains at Record Levels

The Australian Institute of Geoscientists (AIG) June 2014 geoscientist employment survey revealed little good news for Australia’s geoscientists (geologists and geophysicists).

The unemployment rate amongst Australia’s geoscientists fell to 15.5% from the record of 18.7% recorded in the January 2014 survey. The underemployment rate, however, remained effectively unchanged at 14.9% (14.8% in the January 2014 survey). The unemployment and underemployment rates remain above those recorded in September 2009 at the height of the global financial crisis.

20140630 Geoscientist Unemployment

Australian geoscientist unemployment and underemployment – June 2009 to June 2014.  Some improvement in unemployment in the first half of 2014 was not matched by an improvement in underemployment amongst self-employed geoscientists.

Some 88% of underemployed geoscientists reported that they were securing less than half of their desired level of self-employment. More than 41% of underemployed geoscientists were securing less than 10% of their desired level of self-employment. This was the first survey in the series to collect this information.

More than 60% of unemployed and underemployed geoscientists reported having been so for six months or more.  Almost 20% lost their employment in the past three months.  Some 60 % of unemployed and underemployed geoscientists were not confident of returning to full employment in the next 12 months.  Less than 5% were confident of returning to work in the next three months.

Almost three percent of unemployed and underemployed geoscientists were seeking permanent work outside their profession.

On a State by State basis, between January and June 2014, geoscientist unemployment in Australia fell in Western Australia from 19.6% to 14.3%, and in Queensland from 16.4% to 10.8%.  In New South Wales, unemployment rose sharply from 13.3 to 20.1% and smaller increases were evident in Victoria (22.2%) and South Australia (13.8%).

Underemployment amongst self-employed geoscientists between January and June 2014 increased in Western Australia from 12.2% to 12.9%, fell in Queensland from 25.1% to 17.8%, increased in New South Wales from 13.3% to 17.3%, remained effectively constant in Victoria at 5.3% and increased in South Australia from 10.3% to 14.7%.

Too few responses were received from the Northern Territory and Tasmania to provide meaningful figures for those jurisdictions.

The June 2014 survey attracted an excellent response. In all, 1,069 geoscientists completed the survey – more than one in eight geoscientists in Australia according to the most recent Australian Census figures.

AIG President Mr Wayne Spilsbury cautiously welcomed the latest survey results. “We hope that the improvement in unemployment evident between January and June this year is the beginning of a trend, but the small size of the improvement recorded and the increase in underemployment amongst self-employed geoscientists is not welcome news”.

“AIG hopes that we will see the effects of Federal Government initiatives, especially the Exploration Development Incentive, to promote investment in Australia’s exploration sector in the form of improved employment opportunities for geoscientists”. “State Governments also need to promote exploration by eliminating red-tape that contributes to investment in exploration being diverted from activities that could contribute to the discovery of new mineral resources”.

Mr Spilsbury expressed his thanks to Australian geoscientists who have contributed to the ongoing success of these surveys since their inception in June 2009. “Without the support of AIG members and their colleagues, AIG would not have the reliable data generated by these surveys to track this important aspect of their profession in Australia”.