460,000 graduates shun chance to join Chinese civil service

By on 30/11/2015
A total of 1.39m graduates had passed the initial test allowing them to register for the exam.

Almost half a million graduates failed to show up for the Chinese civil service exam with fewer people interested in applying for government posts.

A total of 1.39m graduates had passed the initial test allowing them to register for the exam, which took place yesterday. But, some 460,000 failed to turn up, meaning around 930,000 took the test, according to ChinaDaily.com.

Last year, out of 1.4m registered applicants (down by 110,000 compared to the previous year), more than one-third failed to show up, according to the Economist.

There are 27,817 posts available in this year’s recruitment drive, meaning that there are 33 test-takers for each available position – the lowest ratio in five years.

As recently as 2010 it stood at 59:1. Recent opinion polls have found respondents born in the 1990s to be much less keen on civil-service careers than their elders.

While previously, university students have been flocking to join the Communist Party in the hope of getting a leg-up into the bureaucracy, they are now showing signs of losing interest in the career.

Chinese job-search website, Zhaopin.com, reported earlier this year that in the three weeks after the lunar new-year holiday in February more than 10,000 government workers quit their jobs to seek work in the private sector—an increase of nearly one-third over the same period in 2014.

The company attributed this to a new emphasis on frugality in government work.

Lavish meals are now banned; governments are no longer allowed to build prestigious offices for themselves; stricter controls have been imposed on the size of ministers’ offices and temperature settings in government buildings; and the receiving of gifts and donations of cash, once common features of bureaucratic life, has become far riskier.

Earlier this year an investigation revealed the diversion by the Shaanxi provincial government of 89m yuan ($14.4m) in disaster relief funds toward the construction of new homes for civil servants.

And president Xi Jinping’s campaign against corruption, the most intense and sustained in the party’s history, has made it harder to pocket the bribes that have traditionally supplemented low official salaries.

In 2014, the party’s anti-corruption department punished 232,000 officials, 30% more than in the previous year.

About Winnie Agbonlahor

Winnie is news editor of Global Government Forum. She previously reported for Civil Service World - the trade magazine for senior UK government officials. Originally from Germany, Winnie first came to the UK in 2006 to study a BA in Journalism & Russian at the University of Sheffield. She is bilingual in English and German, and, after spending an academic year abroad in Russia and reporting for the Moscow Times, Winnie also speaks Russian fluently.

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