Nov 03, 2020

Geoscientist jobless rate on the rise

Geoscientist jobless rate on the rise

Employment prospects dimmed for geoscientists in Queensland in the past quarter, according to the latest industry survey results.

Unemployment among Queensland geoscientists increased from 7.4 per cent in the June quarter to 9.4 per cent in the September quarter, Australian Institute of Geoscientists president Andrew Waltho said.

The number of Queensland geoscientists identifying as being under-employed also rose in that period from 19.8 per cent to 22.2 per cent.

Nationwide, Mr Waltho said the unemployment figure was the highest it had been since the March quarter of 2018, hitting 10.6 per cent.

But generally he described the latest AIG survey figures as a mixed bag.

“All of the states saw a very small increase in unemployment, except in New South Wales where it went from 10.5 per cent in June to 5 per cent in September. And their under-employment rate fell also,” he said.

Nationally, under-employment rates fell from 17.4 per cent to 12.7 per cent for the period. 

Under-employment, in this survey series, is defined as geoscientists being unable to secure more than 25 per cent of their desired workload.

The proportion of self-employed geoscientists among survey respondents increased from 22 per cent to 28 per cent, possibly reflecting improved employment prospects for self-employed geoscientists.

“The increase in unemployment is concerning, despite being recorded at a time of economic difficulties through the Australian economy being in recession due to the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic,” Mr Waltho said. 

“The trend in survey results over the past year now points to the flattening of what was a decreasing trend in unemployment.

“What appear to be improved conditions for self-employed geoscientists, however, are welcome.”

Mr Waltho said the survey results pointed to continued activity in the exploration and mining sectors, which employed three-quarters of Australia’s geoscientists, and companies making an effort to continue their operations and maintain continuity under difficult business conditions.

More than 39 per cent of survey respondents had more than 30 years’ experience since graduation. 

Early career geoscientists, with five or less years of experience since graduation, represented only 3 per cent of survey respondents.  

“The prospect of an ageing workforce, suggested by the growing proportion of geoscientists with more than 30 years’experience is a major concern,” Mr Waltho said. 

“Lack of gender diversity is also an issue our profession needs to address on several fronts.”