Geoscientists’ Employment Concerns Realised With Unemployment Again On The Rise

Australian Institute of Geoscientists > Employment > Geoscientists’ Employment Concerns Realised With Unemployment Again On The Rise

An improvement in employment prospects for Australia’s geoscientists evident in the September Quarter 2014 AIG Australian Geoscientist Employment Survey results proved to be short lived with unemployment and underemployment rising again in the December quarter.

Australia’s geoscientists continue to struggle in response to a sustained downturn in employment prospects.

The unemployment rate amongst Australia’s geoscientists at the end of December 2014 was 15.5%, a full 2.0% higher than the rate at the end of September.  The underemployment rate in the latest survey amongst self-employed geoscientists rose to 16.9% from 15.4% in the previous quarter.

Unemployment Dec 2014


Unemployment Rate Dec 2014



Underemployment Dec 2014


The unemployment rate of 15.5% was the second highest recorded since the Australian Institute of Geoscientists (AIG), Australia’s leading professional institute exclusively representing professional geoscientists, commenced this survey series to initially measure the impact of global financial crisis on employment prospects for geoscientists in June 2009.  The combined unemployment and underemployment rate of 32.4% was also the second highest recorded by this survey.

Self-employed geoscientists continued to struggle with more than a third unable to secure more than 10% of their desired workload.  Were these self-employed geoscientists to be considered to be unemployed, the overall unemployment rate would be a staggering 21.3%; more than 1 in every 5 professional geoscientists in Australia today.  This rate was up from 18% in the September quarter.

In the latest survey, 12.2% of unemployed geoscientists lost their jobs in the previous 3 months.  Almost 40% had been unemployed for more than a year.

More than 66% of unemployed and underemployed geoscientists were not confident of returning to full time employment in their chosen field within 12 months.  Six percent were seeking alternate employment outside their profession.

“The increase in unemployment amongst Australia’s geoscientists in the final quarter of 2014 will be seen as very disheartening by many in the profession” AIG President, Mr Wayne Spilsbury, said.  “The employment downturn, since it peaked at the end of 2013 has shown little sign of improvement”.  “The GFC in 2008 to 2009 was a short, sharp event”.

“The current, continuing downturn appears to be a product of depressed commodity prices contributing to a marked decrease in exploration that is essential to the sustainability of Australia’s minerals and energy resource industries and Australia’s prospects for continued economic prosperity” Mr Spilsbury said.

The following table summarises the unemployment rates observed for Australia’s “mining states”.

Unemployment States Dec 2014


Western Australia recorded the highest unemployment rate amongst Australia’s “mining states” of 15.7 percent, a full two percent higher than for the previous quarter.

Some 83% of respondents were in or seeking full-time employment, while 4.2% were in or seeking part-time work and 13% were self-employed.  Some 65% of respondents worked or were seeking work in mineral exploration, 15% in metalliferous mining, 7% in coal and petroleum exploration and production, and 5% in engineering geology and groundwater resource exploration and management – levels very similar to those recorded by the previous survey.

“In AIG we believe that the unemployment and underemployment rates for geoscientists in Australia are a reflection of the overall health of Australia’s exploration and mining industries and a barometer for the overall outlook for resources”.  “The industry is clearly suffering from flat economic conditions and increasingly onerous constraints affecting both access to land for exploration and, surprisingly, the relinquishment of land considered to be unprospective by current exploration licence holders”.    “We continue to see Australian-listed, junior exploration and mining companies that are critically undercapitalised finding it difficult to attract new investment that lead to improved geological knowledge needed to both optimise the value of existing, known resources and to make new discoveries” Mr Spilsbury said.

“Promised initiatives to promote exploration by both the Federal and State governments appear to be having little impact on the state of the mining and energy production industries”.  “The storm for exploration and mining spoke of in response to the previous survey results three months ago shows no signs of abating”.