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Unemployment down but self-employed geoscientists continue to struggle

Australian Geoscientist Employment Survey – March 2019

Unemployment amongst Australian geoscientists continued to fall during the first quarter of 2019.  At 31 March 2019, the latest AIG Australian Geoscientist Employment Survey revealed an unemployment rate of 7.5%, down from 9.1% recorded three months earlier at the end of December 2018.  

The underemployment rate amongst self-employed geoscientists, however, increased to 20.5%, continuing an upturn in the under-employment rate evident in the December 2018 survey when a rate of 18.5% was recorded.

Geoscientist unemployment in Australia – June 2009 – March 2019

The fall in geoscientist unemployment continues a gradual, downward trend that became evident in March 2016.

In the first quarter of 2019, geoscientist unemployment increased in all states except Queensland and the Northern Territory.  The biggest increase was observed in Victoria where the unemployment rate increased from 5.9% to 11.8%.  In Queensland, the unemployment rate fell from 15.1% to 9.4%. Underemployment increased in every state except South Australia, where the rate fell from 36.8% to 31.2%.  Too few responses were received from Tasmania to quote figures for that state.

Geoscientist unemployment and under-employment by state – March 2019

AIG President, Andrew Waltho, welcomed the continued fall in geoscientist employment but noted that self-employed geoscientists continued to struggle.  

“There is, clearly, evidence that increased industry activity, particularly in mineral exploration, is creating new employment opportunities for geoscientists, particularly in mineral exploration, but any talk of a boom seems premature” Mr Waltho said.

“We received excellent response to the survey again, with more than 400 contributions received from geoscientists across Australia” Mr Waltho said.

The next survey in this series, for the second quarter of 2019, will open for contributions in early July.

Latest Australian geoscientist employment survey open

The latest instalment in AIG’s Australian geoscientist employment survey series is open for contributions. Click here to complete the survey.

This survey will provide data on trends in geoscientist employment in Australia during the first quarter (January, February, March) of 2019.  In the final quarter of 2018 quarter, the Australian geoscientists unemployment rate continued a gradual, downward trend, but increased from 8.3% at the end of September, to 9.1% at the end of December.  Underemployment amongst self-employed geoscientists increased markedly. There is still a general perception that exploration and mining investment is strengthening in Australia, but this may not be flowing through to strongly improved employment prospects for geoscientists.

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 28th April 2019.  Every contribution adds to the reliability of the survey results.  

Sincere thanks in advance for your continued support.

Employment survey snapshot

The latest AIG Australian Geoscientist Employment Survey for the final quarter of 2018, conducted during January 2019, revealed a slight increase in overall unemployment amongst Australian geoscientists and a spike in underemployment amongst self-employed geoscience professionals.

Geoscientist unemployment and underemployment in Australia June 2009 to December 2018

The unemployment rate rose slightly from 8.3% at the end of September to 9.1% at the end of December 2018, while underemployment for the same period increased significantly from 12.9% to 18.5%.

The unemployment rate was the lowest recorded since March 2013 but points to the geoscientist employment situation in Australia remaining somewhat fragile.

Analysis of the survey data is continuing – watch the AIG web site for a complete analysis of the survey results.

Australian geoscientist employment survey

The latest Australian geoscientist employment survey is open for contributions.  2019 marks the tenth anniversary of this survey series.

2019 marks the tenth anniversary of AIG's Australian Geoscientist Employment Survey series.
2019 marks the tenth anniversary of AIG’s Australian Geoscientist Employment Survey series.

This latest instalment in the survey series will provide data on trends in geoscientist employment in Australia during the final quarter (October, November, December) of 2018. 

In the September quarter, the Australian geoscientists unemployment rate fell slightly to 8.3%, from 8.5% in the June quarter.  This was the lowest level in several years but coincided with a widely held perception that industry activity and employment opportunities had improved significantly.  The period covered by this survey is typically one of the busiest times in the Australian exploration field season, which makes the muted improvement in employment interesting.

Australian geoscientist employment - June 2009 to September 2018.
Australian geoscientist employment – June 2009 to September 2018.

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 1st February 2019, to allow for the summer holiday season in Australia.  Every contribution adds to the reliability of the survey results.

Thanks in advance for your support.

Geoscientist unemployment essentially unchanged

The latest Australian geoscientist employment survey results show little change in unemployment and underemployment amongst Australian geoscientists in Quarter 3 from Quarter 2, 2018.

Geoscientist unemployment in Australia during the third quarter of 2018 was little changed from the previous quarter.  The unemployment rate fell from 8.5% at the end of June to 8.3% at the end of September.  Under-employment amongst self employed geoscientists also fell slightly, from 13.2% to 12.9% for the same period.

Geoscientist unemployment in Australia June 2009 to September 2018
Geoscientist unemployment in Australia June 2009 to September 2018.

Almost half (43%) of respondents reporting that they were under-employed said that they were achieving less than 25% of their desired level of self- employment, pointing to real unemployment and under-employment rates of 13.8% and 7.4% for the September quarter of 2018 respectively.

The survey results are interpreted to reflect anecdotal evidence of continued improvement in geoscientist employment in Australia throughout 2018, but the pace of improvement has been slow. 

“Employment conditions for geoscientists in Australia are showing very welcome, gradual employment but the rate at which this improvement is happening remains slow” AIG spokesperson Andrew Waltho said.  

State by state, unemployment fell in Western Australia and Queensland.  A small increase in unemployment was observed in NSW and the ACT, but significant increases in unemployment were evident in Victoria, where unemployment increased by almost 11%, followed by South Australia at over 9%.

Western Australia and Queensland unemployment June 2009 to Sep 2018
Western Australia and Queensland unemployment June 2009 to Sep 2018

“In the latest survey, 23% of unemployed and underemployed respondents lost employment during the past three months”.  “This was only slightly exceeded by the number of respondents re-entering the workforce” Mr Waltho said.  “A significant number of geoscientists appear to be caught in an employment revolving door” Mr Waltho said.

The proportion of geoscientists employed in mineral exploration during the September quarter increased, from 65.3% to 66.1% during the quarter; the highest contribution proportion of survey respondents engaged in mineral exploration of 66.9% recorded by these surveys in September 2012, suggesting that increased mineral exploration in Australia is making a difference, but at the expense of other fields of practice.  Little change was evident in employment in metalliferous mining and energy resource exploration and production.

The proportion of unemployed and underemployed geoscientists looking to leave their profession fell sharply from 4,2% at the end of June, to 2.6% at the end of September. 

“The decline in geoscientists looking to leave their profession must be seen as a positive sign” Mr Waltho said.  “These results are markedly down from the peak of 11.4% of unemployed and under-employed geoscientists looking to leave their profession recorded in December 2016” Mr Waltho said.

The proportion of geoscientists in full-time employment in the latest survey was 68.6%, well below the peak of 83.9% recorded in June 2014.  Part time employment provided 3.3% of jobs.  Some 28.1% of respondents identified as being self employed; up from 21.9% in the previous quarter and the low of 13.0% recorded in June 2013.  

“We have clearly seen a trend towards engagement of self-employed geoscientists as consultants and contractors by exploration and mining companies over the past four to five years” Mr Waltho said.  “This is reflected in data for employment and unemployment by years of experience, which points to almost half of unemployed geoscientists being the most experienced component of the workforce” Mr Waltho said.  

Geoscientist employment and and unemployment by years of experience.
Geoscientist employment and and unemployment by years of experience.

“Early career geoscientists are also experiencing difficulties getting started in the profession” Mr Waltho said.  “AIG is strongly focused on this issue with AIG’s National Graduate Committee working hard to improve opportunities for early career geoscientists through initiatives that, notably, include the Institute’s extremely successful mentoring programme” Mr Waltho said.

The next survey will open for contributions on 1 January 2019.

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