A great end result on China’s annual nationwide civil service examination is a requirement for any Chinese language candidate who desires to be thought-about for the tens of hundreds of vacant civil service jobs that the federal government seeks to fill yearly.
Lots of the vacant positions are reserved for current Chinese language graduates.
When 22-year-old current graduate Du Xin sat down for the examination in December final 12 months at a check centre within the metropolis of Shijiazhuang in China’s Hebei province, she had been finding out vigorously for six months.
Some candidates even rent tutors to organize them for the examination.
Candidates are examined broadly on their normal information and analytical expertise whereas in newer years they’ve additionally been examined on their grasp of “Xi thought” – Chinese language President Xi Jinping’s ideology and imaginative and prescient for China.
Regardless of her months of preparation, Du knew that the chances that her check end result would carry her nearer to a authorities job had been slim.
As she started the examination, so, too, did hundreds of thousands of different Chinese language youths throughout lots of of Chinese language cities.
“The competitors is fierce,” Du advised Al Jazeera.
That 12 months the possibility of securing a civil service place was 70 to 1.
Due to this fact, Du was stunned and thrilled when she discovered that she did nicely on the examination and subsequently landed a job as an organiser on the native workplace of the Chinese language Communist Occasion (CCP) in Shijiazhuang.
This 12 months, the competitors much more fierce because the variety of candidates sitting down for the examination on the finish of November surpassed three million for the primary time.
The variety of vacant authorities positions has not stored up, reducing the chances of securing a job like Du’s from 70 to 1 to 77 to 1, according to the state-run Global Times.
Du is just not stunned by the excessive variety of candidates.
“I feel plenty of younger individuals in China actually need a steady job proper now,” she mentioned.
Job safety is an ‘iron rice bowl’
The enchantment of steady employment was what drew Du to the civil service examination final 12 months at a time of economic turmoil in China.
“I felt a bit misplaced after I completed my graduate research, I didn’t know what I wished to do,” she advised Al Jazeera. “However I knew I wished a job the place I may really feel safe and have free time, and that made me excited by authorities work.”
Though employment in China’s civil service not often pays in addition to comparable employment within the Chinese language non-public sector, there are different advantages. Civil servants often have entry to higher medical insurance coverage, a preferential pension plan, constant bonus pay-outs and safe lifetime employment.
The safety that comes with a public place has given rise to the nickname, “iron rice bowl”.
Iron rice bowls are coveted by some conventional Chinese language mother and father for his or her kids – not only for stability however as a result of some see acquiring such jobs as a recognition of excellence by the state.
An essential side of life as a civil servant for Du is the working hours.
“I work from 9am to 5pm, and I don’t should work on weekends,” Du mentioned.
Lots of Du’s associates within the non-public sector work the 996 system – 9am to 9pm, 6 days per week.
“In comparison with them, I’ve much more free time to get pleasure from my hobbies,” she mentioned.
Yang Jiang was additionally not stunned by the document variety of candidates for China’s civil service examination this 12 months.
Jiang is a scholar of China’s financial insurance policies and a senior researcher on the Danish Institute for Worldwide Research.
The variety of candidates has been rising rapidly lately, and in response to Jiang, one cause is the equally excessive variety of Chinese language graduates getting into the job market.
In 2023 alone, nearly 11.6 million Chinese language completed their research, the very best quantity ever.
However the overarching cause for the excessive variety of civil service examination candidates is the Chinese language financial system, Jiang advised Al Jazeera.
“The financial state of affairs is unsure in China,” she mentioned.
The Chinese language financial system has been struggling to achieve the expansion charges of earlier years, the housing market is within the deepest hunch in many years and international direct funding struck a deficit within the July-September interval of 2023 for the primary time recorded.
For Chinese language graduates, circumstances look notably grim: youth unemployment hit a document excessive of 21.3 % in June earlier than the authorities stopped publishing the numbers.
“The non-public sector particularly has seen plenty of layoffs within the financial downturn,” Jiang defined.
“That has naturally made extra Chinese language graduates look in the direction of the general public sector for the kind of job safety that’s at present lacking within the non-public sector,” she mentioned.
‘They’ll’t make us disappear’
Like Du, 23-year-old Chris Liao from Guangdong province in southern China graduated final 12 months with a grasp’s diploma in public administration. He additionally signed up for the civil service examination.
“I didn’t make it previous the written examination,” he advised Al Jazeera.
Afterwards, Liao was unable to discover a job inside his subject of examine, forcing him to work as a prepare dinner for some time earlier than he moved again along with his mother and father outdoors Guangzhou, the most important metropolis in Guangdong.
He’s now among the many hundreds of thousands of unemployed younger individuals in China.
“I really feel like life obtained actually troublesome when COVID hit and ever because it hasn’t stopped getting troublesome,” he defined.
Liao believes that the federal government’s COVID-19 technique is the reason for lots of the financial issues plaguing China in the present day.
“So it’s the authorities’s duty to do extra to make the state of affairs higher,” he mentioned.
In accordance with observers, the massive variety of unemployed youth in China’s main cities is a major trigger for concern for the party-state.
One Communist organisation in Liao’s Guangzhou even introduced a plan in March about sending unemployed youths to the countryside to foster rural improvement.
Such a plan hearkens again to Chairman Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution of the Nineteen Sixties and Seventies throughout which period hundreds of thousands of city youths had been despatched to the countryside in a interval of political and social upheaval that brought on the deaths of at least two million people.
In January, President Xi additionally spoke about Chinese language youths “revitalising” the countryside.
Liao doesn’t consider that such plans are reasonable in trendy instances, nonetheless.
“They’ll’t make us disappear into the countryside,” he mentioned.
“There are too many people, and we’re rising in quantity.”