It is no surprise to hear that there have been job losses in the geosciences sector of mining in Australia, mainly as a result of the downturn in the mining industry worldwide, and the collapse of commodity prices.
The mining investment boom which largely buoyed the Australian economy for most of this millennium is sadly no more, and the resource industry has been hard hit because of it. This has had widespread consequences for those working in geosciences. The downturn in mining has not only affected the mining industry in Australia but has affected the economy as a whole, and resulted in job losses for those in geosciences not only in mining but across the board.
What is important to remember is that those that work in the Geosciences sector are not only in mining. They are employed in other industries such as the energy industry, that have also been hard hit with job losses in recent times. The energy industry is a massive one and includes those in the petroleum industry, including oil companies, the gas industry, the electrical power industry as well as the coal industry and the nuclear power industry. There are also those in geosciences who work in non-resource industries in Australia that have also been affected with job losses.
The job situation in Australia has been tough across the board, and there are many industries that have experienced a shrinking of jobs, but it seems that the Geosciences have being particularly hard hit with job losses.
Which Geosciences field has been most affected by unemployment in Australia?
An interesting report by the Australian Institute of Geoscientists examined which fields of practice have been affected most by the prolonged downturn in the geosciences and which fields have experienced the worst unemployment. This information they obtained by doing analysis of their latest AIG Australian Geoscientist Employment Survey data.
What was interesting to note from the data provided by AIG is that the survey revealed an unemployment rate of 15.9% and under –employment rate of 20.2% amongst geoscientists nationally in Australia. AIG state that these rates are down from 19.5% and 23.4% respectively in the March quarter 2016 survey.
In this latest survey, the highest rate of unemployment was found to be amongst geoscientists working in energy resource exploration and production. This would include coal, coal seam gas and petroleum at 20.3%. This is no surprise really considering the downturn in the energy sector.
The next worst hit industry for geosciences is in mineral exploration, which also happens to be the largest employment sector of those in geosciences in Australia at 18.7%. The lowest rate of unemployment was found to affect geoscientists that work in engineering, environmental and groundwater resource geosciences at 6.5%
What was worrying to read in this report was that unemployment in all geosciences fields exceeded the average for the entire Australians workforce by 5.7% for June 2016. This is not good news for those in geosciences in Australia. It is important however to remember that mining is notoriously cyclical, and that things should eventually turn around. However while we can’t help but compare the cycles this one has been behaving differently.