Civil service test applications surge

Updated: 2012-10-24 23:34

By CHEN XIN (China Daily)

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More people have successfully applied to take the national civil servant examination in 2013 than did the year before.

As a result, the number of test takers next year is expected to reach a record high after falling for two straight years.

Nearly 1.37 million qualified applicants had registered to take the 2013 exam by the time the application period closed at 6 pm on Wednesday, according to Zhonggong Education, a provider of private training for those who want to take the exam.

Li Yongxin, president of the organization, said that figure was calculated by adding up the number of applicants in the official application system.

The State Administration of Civil Service plans to release a final figure after it finishes examining the qualifications of last-minute applicants on Friday.

"The number is expected to surpass 1.6 million," Li said. "Past experience tells us that the final figure will always be about 20 percent higher than what the number was when the application period closed."

The exam has attracted some 1.3 million qualified applicants this year. In 2011, the number was 1.41 million and it was 1.46 million in 2010.

Li attributed the increase in applications to a rise in the number of positions applicants can prove themselves qualified to hold.

More than 140 State-level government agencies and their affiliated public institutions and local branches aim to recruit about 20,800 people in 2013, an increase of nearly 3,000 from this year.

"China will see more than 6 million university graduates next year," Li said. "The economic outlook has not been good since the beginning of this year, and that has made it more difficult for university graduates to find jobs."

Due to a slowing economy, coastal provinces such as Zhejiang and Guangdong, which are home to many promising private companies, have not been offering job seekers a great number of opportunities. As a result, many graduates are looking to the civil servant exam as an alternative way of finding work, he said.

Li said another reason more people applied to take the exam next year is that more than 70 of the vacancies the applicants might be qualified to fill do not require them to have at least two years of work experience. The exceptions to that rule are certain central departments and provincial branches.

Most of those posts are in city and county governments or below.

"Central authorities tend to look more at candidates' grassroots work experience ... and everybody knows that," Li said. "So many university graduates would like to work in grassroots civil service posts before they take an opportunity to apply for jobs at higher levels of government."

The civil service jobs that are most in demand vary from department to department.

The most-sought-after position now is a research post at the National Bureau of Statistics' Chongqing branch, which had been the target of 9,411 applications by 6 pm on Wednesday.

Explaining why the position is so popular, Li said its holder is required to have no educational attainments beyond a bachelor's degree.

In contrast, there are 146 positions for which qualified applications have yet to be submitted.

Li said the most unpopular posts are always found in departments such as meteorology and in remote places.

This year, many departments are offering jobs only to candidates who can meet certain tough requirements.

The Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters, for example, offered a position that requires the holder to make frequent visits to emergency rescue and disaster relief sites. It is described as being "bitter and better suited to a man".

Trying to explain why jobs in civil service have been so popular in recent years, Liu Xutao, a professor with the Chinese Academy of Governance in Beijing, said they are stable and carry a large number of benefits, such as giving the people who holds them the right to acquire hukou, or a permanent residence permit.

Not having a hukou prevents someone from having access various public services. People who live in Beijing but do not possess a hukou are not allowed to buy apartments or register cars unless they have paid personal income taxes or paid into social security accounts in the city for five consecutive years.

"The civil servant exam provides a comparatively open, transparent and stable means of recruitment and people can easily give themselves a decent future after taking a government job," Liu said. "Many uncertainties exist for someone who works at a business, and businesses and the economy always change."

He said many people who hold a master's degree or a higher diploma and were enrolled in the civil service system often later find that they are not suited to the posts they eventually take.

"If the number of applicants for civil service jobs continues to increase year after year, we should seriously ask if there is a problem in our use of labor," Liu said. "Then we should take measures to better guide our use of labor resources."

The national civil servant exam, which tests applicants' writing and other abilities, will be held on Nov 25 in large cities across the country.