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Latest employment survey open

This survey is designed to examine whether the improved employment conditions for geoscientists throughout Australia evident in the second half of 2020 have continued into the current year.  Geoscientist unemployment fell to just 4.5% nationally in the final quarter of 2020.  This was accompanied by a fall in the under-employment rate to 9.3%.  For the first quarter in some time, there was also a decrease in long-term unemployment.

Geoscientist employment June 2009 – December 2020

This result was considerably better than a number of analysts predicted, a sign of resilience in the exploration and mining sectors in particular.  

The first quarter of any year is usually a time of decreased exploration activity due to the Christmas – New Year holidays and the summer wet season across northern Australia.  Anecdotal evidence, however, points to another strong employment result.

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 sought 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 Saturday, 24th April, 2021.  Every contribution adds to the reliability of the survey results.  Sincere thanks in advance for your support of this survey series.

The survey may be completed by following this link.

The JORC Committee and JORC parent bodies (AIG, AusIMM and Minerals Council of Australia) are seeking a project manager to help progress the current JORC Code update.  This is a key, full-time role, working with the AusIMM, MCA and AIG leadership to support and project-manage the review and deliver a set of reforms.  The role will be a highly visible leadership role with significant engagement with external stakeholders, at various levels across the stakeholder groups.  The position reports to AusIMM Chief Operating Officer, on behalf of the JORC parent bodies.

The update process is expected to continue for the next 2-3 years.  This appointment will be for an initial period of 12 months with the potential for renewal.

Key responsibilities of the role include:

  • Management and administration of the JORC Review process, working with the JORC and in particular the Chair, to undertake the ongoing review tasks for the JORC Code review.
  • Liaison with all key stakeholders as part of the consultation program for the JORC Code review.
  • Detailed review, options analysis, and stakeholder consultation for the updating of the requirements for Competent Person.  This task is to be undertaken in parallel with the overall JORC Code review.
  • Supporting the Committee and the Chair to manage and administer the program of meetings and workshops for both review processes.
  • Working closely with the AusIMM and AIG management to review and analyse the JORC Code review and Competent Persons nomination and verification process and requirements.

A copy of the position description is available by contacting Helen Milovanovic (hmilovanovic@ausimm.com).

Expressions of interest in the role should be received by Friday, 5th March, 2021.

Australia’s geoscientists benefitted from a sharp increase in employment opportunities in the final quarter of 2020 according to the latest AIG Australian geoscientist employment survey.

Unemployment amongst professional geoscientists (geologists, geophysicists and allied Earth scientists) recommenced a downward trend after improvement in employment prospects stalled throughout the previous three quarters of the year.

AIG President, Andrew Waltho, welcomed the results.  “It’s great to see job prospects for Australian geoscientists ending what had been a tentative 2020 on such a positive note” he said.

Nationally, between the beginning of October and end of December 2020, geoscientist unemployment fell sharply from 10.6% to 4.5%, the fourth-lowest rate recorded since the survey series commenced in June 2009 and the lowest rate recorded since June 2012, at the height of the resources boom.  Under-employment amongst self-employed geoscientists also fell in the final quarter of 2020, from 12.7% to 9.3%.

The final quarter of 2020 saw a significant fall in both the unemployment and under-employment rates amongst Australian geoscientists.

Employment improved across Australia.  The greatest improvement was evident in Western Australia where unemployment fell from 8.0% to 2.6%.  In Queensland, the unemployment rate fell from 9.4% to 5.3%, while a more modest fall was recorded in New South Wales, from 5.0% to 3.8%.  Geoscientists working in Victoria continued to have the worst employment prospects, although unemployment fell from 24% to 15.4% at the end of the quarter.  Only a small number of survey contributions were received from South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory.

Geoscientist unemployment and under-employment by state October-December 2020.

Mineral exploration delivered the bulk of new employment opportunities, with the proportion of geoscientists engaged in the field increasing from 61.5% to 69.2% during the quarter.  Employment in minerals production also increased slightly from 14.6% to 15.3%. The proportion of geoscientists engaged in energy resource exploration and production decreased from 6.3% to 3.1% for the same period.  

The proportions of geoscientists in different forms of employment (full-time, part-time, casual and self-employment) remained essentially unchanged.

The proportion of geoscientists seeking employment outside their profession fell from 9.1% in the third quarter of 2020 to 2.4% in the latest survey results, as geoscientists embraced better employment prospects.

Improved confidence was evident amongst unemployed respondents, with almost half of the unemployed and under-employed respondents feeling confident of returning to work within six months.  Long-term unemployment, however, remains a concern with almost half of the unemployed respondents reporting having been without work for more than 12 months.

The vast majority of geoscientists in work at the end of December felt confident of retaining employment for the next 12 months.  More than 9 in 10 geoscientists in employment reported that their conditions had been maintained or improved over the previous 12 months, since December 2019.

Gender diversity remained unchanged with women comprising only 14% of geoscientists employed in all sectors of industry, government, education and research across Australia.  This figure has not moved significantly since the survey began collecting gender information in December 2017.

The survey received 337 responses, a strong response for the December quarter surveys.

“The latest quarterly survey revealed some very positive results” Mr Waltho said.  “An improvement in employment for geoscientists was expected during the fourth quarter of 2020 from discussions with colleagues and peers, but the magnitude of the improvement was a surprise” he said.  “The increased confidence evident in employment prospects is great to see, and although long term unemployment remains a feature of the geoscientist employment landscape, the number of geoscientists affected has decreased significantly for the first quarter in some time” he said.

“The employment improvement appears to be largely due to increased mineral exploration” Mr Waltho said.  “I would expect that the Australian exploration expenditure statistics for the quarter will reveal increased exploration activity, especially in Western Australia and Queensland, when they are released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics” he said. “Strong metals prices appear to be driving renewed investment in resource discovery, especially in commodities like gold, copper, nickel and other battery materials, even lithium where 2020 was not a good year for producers and investors” he said.  

“A major concern is that Australia’s geoscience community is aging” Mr Waltho said.  “Almost 40% of geoscientists in Australia have been working for more than 30 years, placing them in their mid-50s, while early career geoscientists: those with less than 10 years experience comprise less than 10% of the community” Mr Waltho said.  “We are again looking at a situation where there are too few, appropriately educated and skilled students coming through Australian universities to meet future demand, as experienced geoscientists retire” he said.  “This is a real concern, as a similar issue is evident in many developed countries including Canada, USA and across Europe, which raises real concerns as to how demand for geoscientific skills in all sectors of industry will be addressed” he said.  

“We only have five to ten years to address this problem which is already front of mind for professional associations in Australia and overseas” Mr Waltho said.

The latest instalment in AIG’s Australian geoscientist employment survey is open for submissions. Follow this link to complete the survey.

The third quarter 2020 employment survey showed an increase in the unemployment rate, but a decrease in underemployment amongst self-employed geoscientists, interpreted to reflect the continued impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. This result was considerably better than a number of analysts predicted, a sign of resilience demonstrated by the exploration and mining sector in particular. 

Geoscientist Employment in Australia – June 2009 to September 2020

Several states continued to be deeply affected by the coronavirus while others demonstrated signs of a recovery, including increases in business activity and easing of travel restrictions both within and between states.  How was geoscience employment affected? 

The survey typically 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 sought 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 Saturday, 19th January, 2021.  Every contribution adds to the reliability of the survey results.

Sincere thanks in advance for your support of this survey series.

Please take two minutes to share your employment experience and encourage your friends and colleagues to contribute.  

Contributions to the latest Australian geoscientist employment survey close 24th October 2020.

The second quarter 2020 employment survey, conducted in June, provided a first look at how Australian geoscience, particularly mineral exploration and mining, was being impacted by the coronavirus pandemic in Australia. 


Geoscientist unemployment fell in Australia during the second quarter of 2020, despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

The slight improvement in employment conditions evident from the results of the first quarter survey for 2020 was unexpected.  This was interpreted as a sign that companies were seeking to retain staff and continuity of exploration programs and mining operations.  Since then, Victoria has experienced a second, more serious wave of infections resulting in renewed, strict limits on business activity and mobility of staff between states.  International travel remains out of the question for many Australians.  How was geoscience employment affected? 

We have added a question to this survey relating to where you work relative to where you completed your highest degree.  A debate is emerging around whether Australia needs to be more self-sufficient in meeting geoscience skills needs in all areas of work, which new data is needed to address.

The survey typically 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 sought 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.

Every contribution adds to the reliability of the survey results. Sincere thanks in advance for your continued support of the survey series.

Click here to complete the survey.

The latest Australian geoscientist employment survey is open for contributions until 24th October 2020.

The second quarter 2020 employment survey, conducted in June, provided a first look at how Australian geoscience, particularly mineral exploration and mining, was being impacted by the coronavirus pandemic in Australia. 

Geoscientist unemployment in Australia
Geoscientist unemployment and under-employment in Australia 2009-2020

The slight improvement in employment conditions evident from the results of the first quarter survey for 2020 was unexpected.  This was interpreted as a sign that companies were seeking to retain staff and continuity of exploration programs and mining operations.  Since then, Victoria has experienced a second, more serious wave of infections resulting in renewed, strict limits on business activity and mobility of staff between states.  International travel remains out of the question for many Australians.  How was geoscience employment affected? 

We have added a question to this survey relating to where you work relative to where you completed your highest degree.  A debate is emerging around whether Australia needs to be more self-sufficient in meeting geoscience skills needs in all areas of work, which new data is needed to address.

The survey typically 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 sought 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 24 October 2020.  Every contribution adds to the reliability of the survey results. Sincere thanks in advance for your continued support of the survey series.

Click here to complete the survey.

Brisbane-based member, Doug Brewster, has commenced monitoring advertisements for geoscientist roles on Seek.com to help better understand employment trends affecting our profession.

On 3 August 2020, Western Australia had the greatest number of vacancies (accounting for 24 of 29 exploration and mining geology positions advertised on Seek).

Exploration and mining geoscientist jobs – 3 Aug 2020

Available jobs were split evenly between exploration and mining positions.

By comparison, 87 mining engineer roles were being advertised, with Western Australia, Queensland and New South Wales dominating.

Mining engineer jobs – 3 Aug 2020S

Sincere thanks to Doug for compiling this information that will, hopefully, become a regular news feature on the AIG web site.

Australian mineral exploration statistics released today contain some positive news.

Mineral exploration expenditure, in real terms, rose 11.9% ($72.7m) to $683.3m in the June quarter 2020. Brownfield exploration expenditure rose 17.5% ($67.5m) while greenfield exploration expenditure rose 2.4% ($5.3m).

ABS mineral exploration expenditure, June 2012-June 2020

Seasonally adjusted expenditure was less positive, falling 6.8% (-$48.3m) to $665.0m in the June quarter 2020. The largest contributor to the fall this quarter was Western Australia (down 7.8%, -$33.3m).

Exploration drilling metres drilled rose 10.8%. Drilling on greenfield targets rose 5.6% and brownfield drilling metres rose 13.7%. Again, the seasonally adjusted figures fell 13.2% in the June quarter.

The real increases in both brownfield and greenfield exploration expenditure and exploration drilling are seen as having positive implications for geoscientist employment in the exploration sector. The June quarter Australian geoscientist employment survey results, released during August, confirmed this with the unemployment rate recorded by the survey improving from 10% and the end of March 2020, to 8.6% at the end of June. More than three-quarters of Australia’s geoscientists work in mineral exploration and mining.

The next Australian geoscientist employment survey will launch 30 September.

Brisbane, 12th August 2020

Geoscientist employment in Australia improved in the second quarter of 2020.  Nationally, unemployment decreased to 8.6% from 10% in the March quarter, while underemployment also fell to 17.4% from 18.1% for the period.

Geoscientist unemployment and underemployment in Australia June 2009 – June 2020

AIG President, Andrew Waltho, described the improvement as most welcome.  “The level of improvement observed in the survey results was small but defied the increase in unemployment observed in the Australian community as a whole, and the sharp downturn in economic activity affecting Australia’s economy” Mr Waltho said.  “Some caution is needed with the improvement recorded only representing half of the increase observed during the first quarter of this year, but any improvement under the economic conditions prevailing in Australia at the moment is both welcome and encouraging” Mr Waltho said.

“With more than three-quarters of Australia’s geoscientists working in exploration and mining, the results point to the absolute importance of our mineral resource industries in helping to maintain economic activity in Australia, even while in recession” Mr Waltho said.  

“This quarter is also the first time since the 2011 minerals boom that geoscientist unemployment has fallen below the unemployment rate for the Australian economy as a whole, pointing to the success of efforts being made to ensure business continuity and resilience during the pandemic” Mr Waltho said.  

“It is very encouraging to see mining and exploration activity continuing across Australia under very difficult conditions” Mr Waltho said.

Employment impacts varied between states.  Unemployment amongst geoscientists fell in Western Australia, but increased slightly in Queensland, New South Wales and the ACT, and Victoria.  Underemployment fell in Western Australia, New South Wales and ACT, and Victoria, and remained little changed in Queensland from the previous quarter.

Unemployment and underemployment by state – June 2020

A high proportion of self-employed geoscientists, however, continued to experience difficulty securing more than a quarter of their desired workload.

Long term unemployment remained stubbornly high, with almost 34% of unemployed geoscientists reporting having been out of work for more than 12 months, including 22% who have been out of work for more than two years.  Some 40% of unemployed geoscientists were not confident of returning to work within the next 12 months.

“Long-term unemployment continues to be of serious concern” Mr Waltho said.  

“AIG,  other professional associations and industry groups including CSIRO have responded positively to the challenges posed by the pandemic and the need to suppress the coronavirus through limiting gatherings of people by moving quickly to delivering professional development talks, seminars and short-courses on-line, allowing members to continue to develop their careers from home” Mr Waltho said.  

“These have included many talks and seminars delivered at no cost to participants in an effort to provide members with accessible and valuable professional development opportunities, essential to maintain members’ skills and motivation” Mr Waltho said.  

“In many ways, access to continued professional development opportunities has improved significantly, with events previously available only in particular cities or states accessible nationally, and by members overseas” Mr Waltho said.  

“Professional associations are learning things in response to the pandemic that will become part of the way in which they engage with members on an ongoing basis, to the benefit of all” Mr Waltho said.  

“A recent success has been delivery of structured training on public reporting of exploration results, mineral resources and ore reserves in compliance with the JORC Code which sets out minimum standards for this in Australia and New Zealand and is used as a model in many countries throughout the world”.  

“The short course was originally developed for face to face delivery but has been adapted to become a very successful and effective on-line offering that has attracted attendees from a number of overseas countries and professionals from non-geoscience fields such as banking and finance and investors to whom mineral resources and reserves are relevant to their work and future” Mr Waltho said.  

“It has been both gratifying and encouraging to receive extremely positive feedback from participants that will contribute to continuous improvement of the course”.  

“AIG is always looking at ways of improving benefits of membership to professional geoscientists globally” Mr Waltho said.

An excellent response to the survey was received nationally, with 508 geoscientists completing the survey. Responses from geoscientists in South Australia fell, however, preventing state employment and underemployment results from being reported.

The next survey will be conducted at the end of September.  All contributors, especially AIG members, are thanked for their ongoing support.

The European Federation of Geologists (EFG) conducts an annual survey of geoscientist employment across Europe and other parts of the world.

Interested AIG Members may participate by following this link.

AIG regularly collaborates with EFG in a number of areas and shares data from the Australian employment surveys to help examine trends and differences in geoscientist employment between Europe and Australia.