Green IT is most sought after post for new China civil servants

Economist has an article about the number of Chinese graduates applying for gov't jobs.

Aspiring mandarins

Testing time for college graduates

China's civil service

Dec 16th 2010 | BEIJING | from PRINT EDITION

“A HEALTHY society cannot come about when people study not for the purpose of gaining wisdom and knowledge but for the purpose of becoming government officials.” When Ye Shi, a Chinese philosopher, bemoaned this 800 years ago, China had already been choosing officials for hundreds of years on the basis of exams that required rote learning of ancient classics. The exams are different now but Ye would still have much to complain about.

Growing numbers of Chinese graduates aspire to join China’s massive bureaucracy. On December 5th over 1m would-be mandarins spent a Sunday sitting the annual civil-service exam. Many of them had not planned to get a government job when they entered university. But college enrolment in China has boomed in recent years (see chart). New graduates face a brutally tight jobs market.

The competition is fierce.

This year there were 16,000 jobs on offer, one for every 64 test-takers.

And the most sought-after post?  Energy Conservation and Technology Equipment Officer, aka Green IT.

There were nearly 5,000 applications for the most sought-after post, that of “energy conservation and technology equipment officer”.

You may wonder what the selection tests are like.

Jessica Zhang of Beijing Foreign Studies University, who applied for a job this year in the foreign ministry, says she found the multiple-choice general knowledge questions easier than she expected. But she was caught unawares by the written section, which required several essays about management of the Yellow River.

Some worry that the craze for government jobs may be bad for business. But Mr Shu says surprises like the one for Ms Zhang are good tests of bureaucratic talent. He says that civil-service exams, unlike in imperial days, “emphasise thinking and innovation and not just repeating the same old thing”. Some consolation for Ye Shi.

I would feel more comfortable with China's test methodology than the USA's method to select a civil servant for Green IT.

What about you?