China’s civil service exam attracts 1.4 million applicants with eyes on the prize of an ‘iron rice bowl’ job

Wendy Wu

More than 1.4 million Chinese sat an examination on Sunday in the hope of landing one of just 24,000 government jobs up for grabs.

The national public service exam, or guokao as it is known in Mandarin, is a hotly contested annual event, with this year’s entrants having just a 1-in-60 chance of success.

The jobs on offer are in 86 central government agencies and 23 institutions directly attached to them, with the successful candidates set to take up their positions early next year, China News reported.

This year’s 1.44 million registered test-takers represented a 4 per cent increase from last year, but fell below the 1.66 million who sat the exam in 2017, the report said.

The guokao has long been a big draw for Chinese jobseekers as government jobs are regarded as providing an “iron rice bowl” of security and money.

The number of people registering for the test first passed 1 million in 2009 as China, like the rest of the world, battled the fallout from the global financial crisis.

Some of the most sought-after positions on offer this year are at the National Archives Administration and the State Administration for Market Regulation, the report said.

All candidates are required to sit a written exam covering areas such as Chinese politics, international affairs, language and logic. Those applying for positions in the fields of finance, public security and foreign affairs also have to take a professional skills test.

China has made job creation a top policy priority in recent years, given the pressure on economic growth and its vast numbers of university graduates.

The country’s urban unemployment rate stood at 5.1 per cent in October, down from 5.2 per cent in September, according to official figures.

More than 11 million new jobs were created in the first 10 months of the year, matching the government’s full-year target.

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