1.4m hopefuls vie for plum jobs in China's civil service

Nearly 900,000 applications accepted so far for 27,000 openings in annual recruitment drive

BEIJING • When China's annual civil service recruitment drive ends today, an estimated 1.4 million people would have applied for prized civil service jobs.

As of 4.30pm on Saturday, around 886,000 job applications have been accepted since registration began on Oct 15, according to Chinese media. Most applicants are fresh university graduates.

The number is higher than that recorded in the same period last year, reported China News Service. The total number of candidates is expected to hit, if not exceed, last year's tally of 1.4 million.

While some coveted jobs attracted thousands of applicants for each opening, others received none.

The most sought-after position attracted 6,500 applicants, according to Chinese media. It is offered by the general office of the China Democratic League's central committee and the job duties include preparing for receptions, conferences and events.

The league, according to The South China Morning Post, is a registered political party which advises the government and is mainly made up of intellectuals working in the education, science and technology and culture sectors.

The most sought-after position attracted 6,500 applicants, according to Chinese media. It is offered by the general office of the China Democratic League's central committee and the job duties include preparing for receptions, conferences and events.

Another highly sought-after government agency is the State Administration of Taxation System, which had received more than 500,000 applications as of Saturday, reported the China News Service.

The online registration for this year's civil service examination ends on Monday. The written test is scheduled on Nov 27.

The civil service has always been one of the most sought-after employers among Chinese youth but it has lost some of its appeal in recent years due to stiff competition for talent from the private sector.

Last year, around 930,000 people sat for the cut-throat National Public Servant Exam, a year-on-year drop of 60,000.

But last year's 27,817 job openings in the civil service marked a new high. This year, candidates will compete for 27,061 job openings across 120 central departments and agencies, reported the China Daily.

As of Saturday, 400 of these positions had received not a single application. Experts explain that there is a lack of interest in these positions because they are relatively low-level jobs in counties and townships. The tough working conditions and heavy workload also put young people off, according to Chinese media.

The China News Service reported that competition tends to be more intense for positions within the central government.

While the ratio of applicants to openings across the board is around 32 to one , the ratio is nearly 60 to one for every job vacancy at the central government.

In 2013, applications to join the civil service hit a high of 1.52 million. The most popular position at that time was with a county office of the National Statistics Bureau in Chongqing, which attracted 9,470 candidates.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 24, 2016, with the headline '1.4m hopefuls vie for plum jobs in China's civil service'. Print Edition | Subscribe