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Geoscientist employment improves in Q3

Australian geoscientist employment improved marginally in the third quarter of 2019.

The latest AIG Australian Geoscientist Employment Survey revealed that unemployment amongst Australian. geoscientists fell to 7.4% at the end of September, down from 9.3% at the end of July. The underemployment rate also fell to 14.1%, from 14.9% for the same period.

The survey results continue a gradually improving trend evident since March 2016, but the rate of improvement appears to have slowed since March 2018.

The survey results are currently being analysed and detailed results will be released in the next few days.

Geologist and geophysicist employment in Australia

The Commonwealth Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business (DESSFB) have released their review of geologist and geophysicist employment in Australia for 2019.

The department’s survey revealed recruitment difficulty for geophysicists and underground mine geologists, in a generally tightening employment market.

The DESSFB survey concluded:

  • The number of applicants and suitable applicants per vacancy have decreased substantially in the last year, while the proportion of vacancies filled has decreased slightly.
  • Importantly, there were significant differences in recruitment experiences across specialisations.
  • The relative availability of exploration geologists is broadly consistent with results from the 2018 survey.
    • In 2018, all surveyed vacancies for exploration geologists were filled, and employers received many suitable applicants per vacancy (12.2 on average). 
    • Half of the non-exploration geologist positions were filled.
  • Many employers noted that underground geologist positions were particularly challenging to fill due to the difficult working conditions of these roles.
  • Around a quarter of employers had no suitable applicants, compared with less than 10 per cent in 2018.
  • Applicants were often considered unsuitable if they did not meet requirements such as:
    • experience in a particular commodity or mine type, such as gold or coal, underground or open pit
    • competency using particular software or the ability to undertake data modelling and/or analysis
    • length of experience, or senior experience.
  • A number of applicants were rejected or not considered because the employer thought they were overqualified.

Demand and Supply

  • The demand for geologists and geophysicists is strong, while entry of new graduates to the market is declining. 
  • In the year to February 2019, internet vacancies for geologists and geophysicists increased by 31.9 per cent, well above the average for all occupations.
  • Employment for these occupations is projected to grow by 21.6 per cent in the five years to May 2023. 
  • Bachelor degree completions for geology and geophysics declined in the two years to 2017.
  • The majority of workers in these occupations are employed in the mining industry. 

The release of the DESSFB survey findings coincides with the latest quarterly AIG Australian geoscientist employment survey being open for contributions. The declining trend in geoscientist unemployment evident in the AIG survey results is considered consistent with the tightening of the skills market identified by DESSFB. Long-term unemployment remains a feature of the AIG surveys. This could be consistent with the high number of applicants per job identified by DESSFB.

The DESSFB, importantly, notes that exploration and mining are the dominant source of geoscientist employment opportunities in Australia.

What do these results mean for you? Have your say by leaving a comment here or via the AIG Linkedin group. You can also contribute to the latest AIG geoscientist employment survey by following this link before 26 October 2019.

Q3 2019 Employment Survey open for contributions

Follow this link to complete the survey

The latest instalment in AIG’s Australian Geoscientist Employment survey series will provide data on trends in geoscientist employment in Australia during the third quarter (July to September) of 2019.    

Unemployment amongst Australian geoscientists rose during the second quarter of 2019 but continued a downward trend that has been evident in survey results since March, 2016.  At 30 June, 2019, the latest AIG Australian Geoscientist Employment Survey revealed an unemployment rate of 9.3% nationally, up  from 7.5% recorded three months earlier at the end of March 2019.  

The underemployment rate amongst self-employed geoscientists, however, improved, falling from 20.5% at the end of March to 14.9% at the end of June.

A high rate of long term unemployment and under-employment continued to be a concern, with more than half of the unemployed respondents reporting being out of work or unable to achieve their desired level of work for more than 12 months.

The survey takes only two or three minutes to complete.  You do not need to be an AIG member to contribute.  No data that could personally identify respondents is collected.  Contributions to the survey are required from both employed and unemployed geoscientists to ensure the relevance of results.  Your completing the survey really helps to make a difference to the standing and knowledge of our profession.

The survey will be open for contributions until 26th October 2019.  Every contribution adds to the reliability of the survey results.  

Sincere thanks in advance for your continued support.

Geoscientist employment opportunities continue improvement despite June quarter slowdown

Australian Geoscientist Employment Survey June 2019

Employment opportunities for Australia’s geoscientists continued to show a very slowl-improving trend, despite disappoini.ng results for the second quarter (April to June). 

The second quarter setback saw unemployment rise from 7.5% at the end of March, to 9.3% at the end of June.On the other hand, underemployment amongst self-employed geoscientists fell from 20.5% to 14.9% for the same period.  The underemployment figure represents the proportion of self-employed geoscientists unable to secure more than one quarter of their desired workload.

The survey was completed by 734 respondents nationally.  Some 66% of respondents worked or sought work in mineral exploration.  A further 18% worked in metalliferous mining, while 5% of respondents worked or sought work in energy resource exploration and production.

Half of Australia’s geoscientists who are currently unemployed have been without work for more than 12 months.  A similar proportion sees little prospect of regaining employment in their field in the year ahead.  Almost one in ten unemployed geoscientists are looking to leave the profession, seeking more stable employment.

“The depressed employment prospects for geoscientists are a surprise given mineral exploration expenditure rose during the June quarter according to Australian Bureau of Statistics figures released last week although mineral exploration drilling declined,” AIG President, Andrew Waltho said. 

“There is little doubt that junior exploration and mining companies especially are experiencing difficulty raising capital to fund new exploration and producers are having to deal with considerable uncertainty and price volatility, at least partly due to trade tensions between the USA and China” Mr Waltho said.

“The increase in work secured by self-employed geoscientists is most welcome, especially in light of the sharp increase in under-employment observed in the previous survey,” Mr Waltho said.

“Long term unemployment is the big issue in these figures.  Half of Australia’s unemployed geoscientists have been without work for 12 months or more, and a similar number see no new opportunities on the horizon,” he said.

“Professional institutes, including AIG, are doing whatever we can to help members remain in touch with their colleagues and peers and maintain their skills, but it’s pretty hard to remain motivated when industry conditions appear to be stagnant,” Mr Waltho said.

The employment situation varied significantly between states in the latest survey results.

The lowest levels of both unemployment and under-employment were recorded in Western Australia.  Unemployment amongst professional geoscientists fell from 8.5% at the end of March to 7.8% at the end of June, while under-employment fell from 17.6% to 11.0% for the same period.

Victoria recorded the largest fall in the unemployment rate, from 11.8% at the end of March to 5.9% in June.  Under-employment in Victoria also fell from 17.6% at the end of March to 14.7% at the end of June.

Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia all recorded increases in both unemployment and under-employment.  Only a small number of responses were received from geoscientists working in the Northern Territory and Tasmania, which indicated near-full employment of small pools of local geoscientists.

Exploring a career in the minerals industry

The Geological Society of America (GSA), the American Geosciences Institute (AGI), the American Geophysical Union (AGU), and the Society of Economic Geology will be hosting a webinar entitled Exploring a Career in the Minerals Industry. The webinar will be on Wednesday, 21 August 2019, at 11:00 a.m. MDT. This webinar will feature two presenters from Newmont Goldcorp who will provide perspectives of a senior project manager and a student near graduation on what a geologist does in this important sector and what it takes to work within this industry.

AIG members have been invited to participate in the webinar, one of a series covering different aspects of geoscientific employment.

Date and Time: 21 August 2019 at 11:00 a.m. MDT
22 August 2019 at 3:00 am Brisbane, 1:00 am Perth
Cost: FREE
Duration: 1 hour
Click here to Register  

The webinar will be recorded and made available to registrants.

About the Webinar
Mineral resources are essential for the world, from precious metals such as gold and their relationship to the global economy, base metals & rare earth minerals and their use in electronics through to industrial minerals used in creation of steel and other construction materials used in our everyday lives. In the past century these non-renewable resources have become both more readily mined and technically challenging to reach. This webinar will feature the perspectives of a senior project manager and a student near graduation on what a geologist does in this important sector and what it takes to work within this industry.

Geologists in the hard-rock sector are engaged in the discovery of metals & minerals as well as their interpretation and potential extraction. The mine development cycle creates opportunities for geoscientists in exploration, modelling, environmental, geotechnical, and production teams. Geoscientists in this field can work either for contracting and consulting firms or directly for corporations ranging in size from junior explorers to multi-national mining firms. Opportunities can include working in remote locations in the field and/or undertaking interpretation from regional centers. This often involves being part of a cross-functional team. As with any industry, demand fluctuates with the market, but skilled workers are always needed, and a good mining company invests in developing safe, long-term projects. Exploration and mining geologists work to fulfill the world’s mineral needs with integrity, expertise, and safety while facilitating community involvement, job creation, and transparency.

About the Presenters
Terry Briggs is part of a Regional Leadership Team currently supporting the South America region of Newmont Goldcorp with operations in Peru, Argentina, and Suriname as well as projects and joint ventures across the region. Previous roles at corporate in Newmont Goldcorp included leading the Geology Function within the Global Technical Services Group as well as running due diligence activities of assets for potential M&A within Corporate Development. Prior to joining Newmont, he worked at a variety of base and precious metal, open pit and underground operations in Australia, Eastern Europe, and South East Asia in both geological and operations management roles. He holds a master’s in Engineering (management) from the University of Colorado and a bachelor of science (specializing in economic geology) from Monash University.

About the Presenters
Terry Briggs is part of a Regional Leadership Team currently supporting the South America region of Newmont Goldcorp with operations in Peru, Argentina, and Suriname as well as projects and joint ventures across the region. Previous roles at corporate in Newmont Goldcorp included leading the Geology Function within the Global Technical Services Group as well as running due diligence activities of assets for potential M&A within Corporate Development. Prior to joining Newmont, he worked at a variety of base and precious metal, open pit and underground operations in Australia, Eastern Europe, and South East Asia in both geological and operations management roles. He holds a master’s in Engineering (management) from the University of Colorado and a bachelor of science (specializing in economic geology) from Monash University.

Elaine Lord holds a bachelor’s of science (hard rock emphasis) from Northern Illinois University, is pursuing a MSc. degree at the University of Alberta, and is currently interning at Newmont Goldcorp as a resource modeler. She has been part of the geological community since her childhood and has studied fossils, paleo-ecology, and resource modeling. Elaine has held positions ranging from GeoCorps park geologist intern to fossil preparator intern at the Field Museum, but has settled into mineral production geosciences as a career choice.

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