16/05/2016 - 14:14

Tough times for geoscientists

16/05/2016 - 14:14

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Employment prospects for geoscientists in Australia have hit fresh lows, with new figures revealing nearly one in five is out of work.

Tough times for geoscientists

Employment prospects for geoscientists in Australia have hit fresh lows, with new figures revealing nearly one in five is out of work.

The unemployment rate among geoscientists in Australia grew to 19.5 per cent in the three months to March, while the underemployment rate hit 23.4 per cent, according to the latest quarterly survey by the Australian Institute of Geoscientists.

The survey found about half of the unemployed have now been jobless for a year, up 5 per cent on the previous quarter, while two-thirds of those jobless have no expectation of returning to their chosen field any time soon.

The figures have further reinforced that geoscientist employment in Australia has been in a continuous decline since 2011, with the latest results breaking previous worst records and crashing to the lowest measure of geoscientist employment conditions since the survey began in 2009.

The combined unemployment and underemployment rate of 42.9 per cent was a 0.8 per cent increase on the previous three months.

Western Australia experienced a marginal lift in the combined unemployment and underemployment at 41 per cent, with unemployment up 3 per cent to 19 per cent, and underemployment up 3 per cent to 22 per cent compared with the previous quarter.

However, 43 per cent of geoscientists in employment felt confident of retaining their employment for the next 12 months, a marked improvement since the December quarter when only 36 per cent of respondents to the survey felt confident of retaining employment.

AIG president Wayne Spilsbury said Australia was entering its third year of extraordinary difficult employment conditions for a group of dedicated, highly trained and experienced scientists.

“These surveys have established a close link between geoscientist employment, exploration investment, resource discovery and the overall health of Australia’s mineral and energy resource industries,” he said.

“All AIG members know that the factors responsible for the prolonged downturn in geoscientist employment are the same ones damaging Australia’s resource development project pipeline.

“These are low metal prices (except gold), poor sentiment in the equity market leading to lack of access to fresh capital and green and red tape that slows and often prohibits access to land for early, non-destructive, early-stage exploration.”

Mr Spilsbury said the rate at which geoscientist unemployment had been increasing, particularly since September 2014, eased in the latest results.

“The proportion of geoscientists currently in employment who felt confident about the security of their jobs increased, even if only slightly, for the first time in 18 months,” he said.  

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