As many as 1.4 million people applied for Chinese government jobs and 900,000 turned up for the test on Sunday. The figure was the lowest compared to the past four years.
Civil servant jobs were favored by many Chinese as they offer relative stability, but the popularity of government posts had dropped in recent years. Nevertheless, the exam was still considered one of the most competitive tests in the country, as there were only 22,200 vacancies in national government agencies, their affiliated public institutions, and local branches. CCTV America’s Ai Yang reported from Beijing, China.
Compared to last year, 3,000 more positions were available for the 2015 National Civil Servant Exam, but 11,000 fewer applicants had applied to take it.
However, it hadn’t made the test any less cut-throat.
“The high ratio reflects several problems. Many university graduates do not have a clear career plan and simply follow what most people are doing. A lot of the young applicants want to be a civil servant mostly for the stability and welfare package, instead of a desire to actually be a civil servant,” Dr. Wang Yan from National Institute of Education Sciences said. “But I think this ratio will continue to drop in the future, because now there’re better career services available in universities, more government assistance for entrepreneurs, and also, the ongoing anti-graft campaign has made many people rethink their choices.”
Since the country’s new leadership took office, it had produced detailed new regulations to abolish bureaucratic and extravagant work styles among government workers, requiring frugality practices.
Once considered the iron rice-bowl due to its stability and generous benefits, civil servant jobs were much less associated with social status and power.
In contrast, while some government jobs won the hearts of thousands of applicants, such as custom officers in Shanghai, vacancies in the less developed northwestern parts of the country attracted much fewer applicants.
“There’s still a huge gap between quality of lifestyles in the more developed urban areas and poorer rural areas of China. Government jobs in these areas usually are less appealing because the conditions are much harsher,” Wang said. “But as the gap continues to narrow as China restructures its economy and more incentive packages including promotion opportunities come out, the situation will slowly change.”
The popularity of being a civil servant may be slowly dropping in China, which was good news for people who truly want to take on the job of serving the people. But the still disproportionate ratio of applicant to vacancy needed to be better addressed. Rather than blindly following the trend, experts suggest young people truly explore what they actually want to do with their lives.