Geoscience unemployment rates rise

UNEMPLOYMENT among professional geoscientists in Australia is at its highest level since the Australian Institute of Geoscientists started compiling information in 2009, a survey has found.
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At the close of 2013, 18.7% of Australia's geoscientists, geologists and geophysicists were unemployed.

A further 14.8% were underemployed, meaning they had been unable to secure their desired level of employment. This number actually fell in the three months between September and December, suggesting that even part-time employment opportunities were drying up.

Among the states, Western Australia saw a 4.4% rise in unemployment over the three month period, increasing from 15.2% to 19.6%. More than half of respondents to the survey currently work in WA.

In New South Wales, the rate increased from 7.7% to 13.3%.

South Australia and Victoria saw a 12.5% to 13.8% and 5% to 5.6% rise respectively, while Queensland stayed relatively stable across the three months, rising 0.2% to 16.4%.

A quarter of unemployed and underemployed respondents were seeking alternate employment outside the geoscience professions until conditions improved, a prospect which many expected to elude them for some time to come.

71.7% of respondents to the survey worked in mineral exploration, followed by 6.5% in metalliferous mining, and 6.5% in energy exploration.

"The extent of unemployment being experienced by Australian geoscientists defies the strategic importance of the resource industries to Australia's economy" AIG President Kaylene Camuti said.

"Cyclicity in geoscience employment has always been a feature of the industry, with exploration activity ebbing and flowing in line with trends in investment, but the extreme cyclicity currently being experienced in Australia is damaging the underlying productivity of our mineral resources industries and contributing to the erosion of Australia's geoscience skills base."

"In 2013 the federal government committed to implementing an exploration development incentive from July 1 this year, to help sustain investment in exploration and reduce the intensity of the troughs affecting the sector.

"We look forward to the introduction of the incentive and urge the government to maintain the commitment to its implementation, particularly given the continuing deterioration in exploration activity, the potential short and long-term economic benefits that would stem from the Incentive, and the government's stated commitment to improving the productivity of Australian industries.

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