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Students sit civil service exam for stable jobs
By Zhu Zhe in Beijing nd Miao Qing in Shanghai (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-11-26 05:29

At 9 am on Saturday, Deng Jie, a senior at Suzhou University, will join the 365,000 people to sit the national civil service examination.

The competition is going to be tough. Only one out of 35 candidates will qualify for an offer, and for some hotly sought positions in the finance, commerce or foreign affairs departments, the ratio is one out of 200, according to the Ministry of Personnel. About 81 per cent of those taking the exam are college students about to graduate.

But Deng, who is majoring in international commerce, still wants to try her luck because most of her classmates have signed up.

"I don't want to miss the chance for a stable and decent job," she said.

One of the reasons behind the exam "mania" is the lifting of a ban on students without a Beijing hukou or household registration to vie for positions in the central government.

The Ministry of Personnel said there should be no discrimination against applicants on the basis of gender, appearance or marital status.

"The tough examination situation reflects the intense competition in the job market, especially for college graduates," said Ren Zhanzhong, director of the Beijing Career Guidance Centre for Higher Education Students.

With the number of graduates expected to reach a record 4 million next year 600,000 more than this year the situation will become tougher, he said.

The Ministry of Education said that from 2006 to 2010, 27 million university graduates will enter the job market.

But most of them, who were born in the 1980s and are the only child in the family, are reluctant to take on something as challenging as running their own business, said Hong Xiangyang, a Shanghai-based career consultant.

It is expected that the competition for civil service positions will continue at a similar level of intensity in the coming years, Ren said.

To find a better job, many students have tried every means to impress potential employers, such as fancy business cards and resumes. Some even offer to work for free.

"Most positions require working experience, which is what we are short of," Deng said. "If the position is attractive, I am willing to take it just for the experience."

Parents' hopes are another reason for the civil service exam fever.

"I'm not sure whether I will like a job in government," Deng said. "But my parents think it is stable and well-paid and desirable."

Hong said such an idea is popular among parents.

"A job in the government appears stable, regular and uncompetitive," he said. "Many parents want their children to have a comfortable shelter."

(China Daily 11/26/2005 page1)

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