By Thursday evening, an estimated 1.3 million people will have signed up to take China’s annual civil service exams. Yet some job positions have found no applicants at all, even though unemployment among university graduates is rising.
On average, 50 applicants will compete for each “iron rice bowl” job in China's civil service, promising less pay than in the private sector but lifelong job security.
A list of unclaimed positions by an education consultancy revealed how recent scandals have made some career opportunities just too risky to be worthwhile.
Of the 19,538 job openings listed, 204 had not drawn any applicants by Wednesday afternoon, according to Zhonggong Yijiao, a job-training chain consultancy which prepares applicants for workplace exams.
This comes after about seven million university graduates joined China’s job market this summer. In August, one in two new graduates was still looking for a job, state media said, calling this year the worst in decades to be a jobseeker.
Many of the jobs that drew no candidates were related to financial oversight or the environment, figures showed.
Even though hundreds of people have signed up to compete for other jobs with the Beijing municipal government, the city, which has struggled for years with frequent hazardous air pollution levels, could not find a single applicant for the job of an information officer for its meteorological bureau.
Hebei, the province surrounding the capital, was also unable to find applicants for four openings in its meteorological bureau. Nine other provinces struggled to find applicants for bureau jobs dealing with air pollution, while nationally, 11 water management positions were also left unclaimed.
China’s most unpopular civil service job seemed to be that of an auditor, the list indicated, with almost a hundred unclaimed positions in statistical oversight, bank auditing and tax auditing.
Not surprisingly, most of the unwanted auditing jobs were with the China State Railway Administration. Four months after a suspended death sentence for former Railways Minister Liu Zhijun concluded an industry-wide anti-graft campaign and led to the downgrading of the ministry into a department, applicants still seem sceptical of job prospects in the field.
Liu is currently serving jail time at Qincheng prison, a detention facility for high-profile officials in the northern outskirts of Beijing. The prison is also currently struggling to fill an administrative position.
China is hiring 6.4 per cent less new civil servants this year compared to last year, when new hiring peaked at 20,879 available positions. The country has about seven million employees with civil servant status, the National Civil Service Bureau said earlier this year.