Prices stable but mining jobs hit record lows
The following article was published by Paul Garvey from The Australian, commenting on recent job performance in the Mining and Resources sector featuring the DFP Mining and Resources Job Index.
The recent stability in commodity prices has done little to stem the tide of job losses in the mining industry, according to the results from two surveys.
Unemployment levels among geologists has hit a new record, according to the Australian Institute of Geoscientists, while the latest analysis of job data from across the mining industry shows little meaningful response to the improved commodity price environment.
The AIG’s latest survey found that unemployment among Australian geoscientists had hit 19.5 per cent, the worst figure recorded since 2009. A further 23.4 per cent said they were underemployed, and 14 per cent said they were now looking for long-term work outside their profession.
The release of the AIG data coincided with the latest mining and resources job index from DFP Recruitment. The DFP figures showed a slight 0.7 per cent rise in employment levels, with growth in temporary and contract work helping offset a fall in the permanent job market. The job index figures from the nation’s biggest mining state, Western Australia, fell 4 per cent during the period to take the total drop in the WA index over the past year to 12.9 per cent.
DFP chief executive Robert van Stokrom said that while the Reserve Bank’s measure of bulk commodity prices had risen 23 per cent since December, the number of job opportunities in the mining sector had hardly moved. The ongoing uncertainty around the demand outlook from China meant it was understandable that job figures were yet to rebound meaningfully, but Mr van Stokrom said that could change if the recent rally was sustained. “Although we have seen a rise in the prices and profitability in early 2016, employment is likely to lag rather than lead,” Mr van Stokrom said. “If prices continue to improve, we can anticipate increased recruitment activity and a more favourable market for job seekers.”
The AIG data found that, at 34 per cent, the unemployment and underemployment levels were far higher among geoscientists with more than 30 years’ experience, when compared with the between 8 per cent and 16 per cent among other experience levels. The AIG said that skew was of particular concern for the industry, as it would affect the level of mentoring for younger geologists and increase the likelihood of important lessons of the past being forgotten. “The latter issue compounds the problem of cyclicity in employment affecting Australia’s resource industries, where the boom and bust’ nature of the sector impedes productivity through the loss of corporate knowledge and repetition of previous work, particular in exploration and discovery of new minerals and energy resources,” the AIG report said.