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The latest Australian geoscientist employment update is open for contributions until this Saturday

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, 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 latest instalment in the survey series is open for contributions.

This survey will provide data on trends in geoscientist employment in Australia during the first quarter (January to March) of 2020.  Australia, during the first quarter of 2020, was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic which has placed restrictions on normal work and travel, both within Australia and internationally.  These surveys will, during the coming year, help to build a picture of the impacts of the pandemic’s impact on geoscientist employment, exploration and mining activity.

This survey commenced just over ten years ago to help assess the impacts of the global financial crisis.  It’s more than unnerving to find our profession and broader community facing another situation with potentially serious economic impacts.  A strong exploration and mining industry is an essential element of  Australia’s economic well-being.  The survey series has demonstrated that employment prospects for geoscientists help to monitor the broader health of the industry.

Unemployment amongst Australian geoscientists, at the end of 2019, was running at a rate of 7.3%, little changed over the second half of the year.  The underemployment rate amongst geoscientists was 13.1%.


Long term employment was a major 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.  One-third of unemployed geoscientists reported being out of work for more than two years.  

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 1 May 2020.  Every contribution adds to the reliability of the survey results.  

Follow this link to complete the survey.

Sincere thanks in advance for your continued support of the survey series.

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.

Australian geoscientist employment – June 2009 to September 2019

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

The number of long-term unemployed geoscientists continued to increase with 47% of unemployed and under-employed geoscientists having little to no work for more than one year, or more than two years for 34% of respondents.

AIG President, Andrew Waltho, welcomed the continued improvement in both the unemployment and under-employment rates, with the reservation that the rate of improvement remains slow. “The most disappointing and serious statistic is the proportion of long term unemployed and under-employed geoscientists” Mr Waltho said. “AIG and kindred professional institutes continue to promote the need to recognise the high-level scientific skills possessed by this pool of experienced professionals that can be applied in a broad range of fields where an ability to understand and interpret Earth systems and processes is valuable”. “In the meantime, AIG continues to provide members with effective and accessible opportunities for members to maintain and expand their professional networks and undertake continued professional development” Mr Waltho said. “Members accessing these opportunities are actively working to resurrect their careers and value this support” he said.

The unemployment and under-employment rates amongst geoscientists in Australia varied substantially between states.

Unemployment amongst geoscientists decreased in Western Australia, Queensland, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, but increased in Victoria and South Australia. The greatest improvement in unemployment was evident in Victoria. No Northern Territory respondents responded as being unemployed. Too few responses were received from Tasmania for state results to be reported.

Under-employment, defined as respondents being able to attract less than 25% of their desired workload, decreased in Queensland, Victoria and South Australia but increased in Western Australia, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, and the Northern Territory. The lowest under-employment results was evident in Victoria.

Australian geoscientist unemployment and under-employment by state – September 2019

Almost 71% of respondents reported being full-time employees, on staff or fixed term contracts. Only 3% work part time and between 4% and 5% are casual employees. Self-employed geoscientists comprise 22% of the profession.

Australian geoscientist employment basis – September 2019

Geoscience remains a male dominated profession in Australia.

Some 85% of survey respondents were men and 15% women. One respondent identified with neither gender. There are relatively more women pursuing geoscience careers in Australia in the 0-15 years experience groups, with the highest proportion of women responding to the survey having between 10 and 15 years experience.

Gender diversity in Australian geoscience – September 2019

“Clearly, more needs to be done to attract women to geoscience careers, and retain women in the profession with more than 15 years experience if gender equity is to be achieved” Mr Waltho said. “It’s a serious issue, central to the public recognition vitality of the geoscience profession that will take concerted and committed action by all geoscientists in Australia to address”.

The next employment survey will open for contributions in early January 2020. AIG values the continued support of both members and non-members who take a few minutes to complete the survey each quarter and encourages as many geoscientists working in all sectors of the profession in Australia to contribute.