A National and Global Perspective on the Dynamic Geoscience Workforce

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Demographic trends within academia, government, and industry indicate that approximately half of the geoscience workforce will be retiring over the next 10-15 years, and a much smaller number of younger geoscience professionals will be ready to step into these positions. Geoscience degree data from the American Geological Institute (AGI) indicate that in 2009, 2,832 undergraduate and 1,683 graduate students earned geoscience degrees. However, only 32 percent of geoscience graduates work in the core profession. Given the small annual influx of new geoscience graduates into the geoscience workforce, there will not be enough geoscientists to fill the future workforce demand, nationally or internationally. Furthermore, it is expected that there will be a loss of technical experience and knowledge-transfer between the retiring cohort of geoscientists and the future generations of geoscientists.

AGI's Geoscience Workforce Program collects and analyzes data pertaining to the changing supply-and-demand dynamics of the geoscience workforce. Overall demographic trends for student and professional geoscientists reveal that the geosciences are not attracting a diverse cross-section of students in the U.S. as less than 10 percent of geoscience degrees are conferred to underrepresented minority students. Insights from the broader geoscience community about the status of the international geoscience workforce suggest that the number of well-trained geoscientists entering the workforce is not sufficient to meet demand on a global level. In addition to data trends, we present information about the different initiatives underway that are supporting critical areas of the geoscience profession such as recruitment and retention strategies, professional development for early-career geoscientists, and strategies to enhance diversity.

  • Leila Gonzales*
  • Christopher Keane*
  • Cindy Martinez*
  • Geological Society of America Annual Meeting 2010