By Michael Evans
A record-breaking 1.12 million people took China’s national civil service examination this past weekend, vying for approximately 20,000 jobs in state-level government agencies and public institutions.
This year’s number of examinees is a significant increase from the 970,000 who sat for the exam in 2011, as is the number of positions available, slightly up from last year’s 18,000 slots.
AFP reports that the number of test-takers has increased more than 30 times over the past decade, as government jobs provide stability in an increasingly competitive private job market.
“I’m taking the exam because government jobs are more stable,” a 24 year-old student told the French news agency. “There’s basically no chance of losing a government job once you have one.”
The China Daily notes that authorities stepped up efforts to combat cheating at exam sites this year.
The [State Administration of Civil Service] has […] warned that anyone who cheats in the exam will not be allowed to reapply for five years, and people who organize group cheating or hire ghostwriters to take the exam will be banned for life.
A test site in Sichuan province provided elastic bands for attendees with long hair, forcing them to tie it back to prevent them from using micro earphones.