Demand and supply for geoscientists in Southeast Asia for the 21st Century

Author : Mike KatzPublication : Bulletin of the Geological Society of MalaysiaVolume : 43Page : 3-8Year : 1999


Bulletin of the Geological Society of Malaysia, Volume 43, Dec. 1999, pp. 3 - 8


Demand and supply for geoscientists in Southeast Asia for the 21st Century


Key Centre for Mines, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, 2052


Abstract: The demand and supply of geoscientists in Southeast Asia has increased due to the unprecedented rapid economic and mineral development since 1970. Mineral and energy resources contribute significantly to the economies of Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Burma and are predicted to expand in Thailand and Indochina. This mining development has also been stimulated due to the establishment of favourable for investment mining laws. Despite recent financial weaknesses, the past up to 8-10% growth of these economies has led to overall expansion of industries and infrastructure that also require increasing geotechnical and environmental inputs. Geoscientists with the appropriate training are now in great demand in exploration, mine geology, mine environment and in the geotechnical and overall environmental areas. These trends indicate increasing future demands also in research and development. On the supply side there are problems with the available training facilities and of attracting the numbers and quality of students, especially on the post-graduate level. The greatest demand is for technologically capable graduates that can meet the needs of an increasingly sophisticated and changing workplace even though this demand is often cyclical and characterised by alternating periods of shortage and oversupply of geoscientists. In periods of shortage the slack is still taken up with considerable numbers of expatriate geoscientists.

A guide that can be utilised to estimate the demand and supply for geoscientists for the mining and energy industries, which are the largest employer of geoscientists in the Southeast Asian region, is based on a simple Australian model which correlates the mining in GDP (MGDP) with the professional geoscientific stock (GEO) and the manpower projected increase with the MGDP predicted growth rate (Katz, 1994). Applying this model correlation to a number of Southeast Asian countries results in some reasonable preliminary estimates. Although the numbers of geoscientists necessary to meet the needs of the region in the 21st century are speculative projections the increasingly technological quality required is without question. The current globalisation and economic competitiveness of the rapidly changing mining industry also places pressure on the quantity and especially the quality of professional geoscientist demand and supply. A case study from Indonesia illustrates some of the supply problems that are common to the region.