Civil service exams see the most applicants ever

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Civil service exams see the most applicants ever

When the economy was booming in the 1980s, people shunned the civil service in favor of jobs in the private sector.

But with growth stagnating, good, steady careers in government have become highly attractive to young jobseekers.

Government data released yesterday proves the ever-growing popularity of low-level government desk jobs, which mainly consist of basic administrative tasks, among high school and college graduates.

The Ministry of Security and Public Administration reported yesterday that a total of 204,698 people applied to take an upcoming civil service exam for 2,738 grade-9 low-level jobs, meaning 74.8 people were vying for each available slot.

That’s the highest number ever recorded since the civil service tests were introduced in 1949. This year’s figure shows an increase of almost 50,000 applicants over last year, when 157,159 registered for the exam.

The ministry said the introduction of three new subjects - science, sociology and mathematics - may have contributed to the spike. As all three are covered in the high school curriculum, more high school graduates may have been inspired to sit the test.

Amid Korea’s intensely competitive job market, it’s not unusual for college students to pour over their books for days and nights at the library while studying for civil service exams.

Job seekers cite employment stability as one of the top reasons they want to become public servants.

The fact that government jobs place less pressure on workers in terms of productivity and competition has also induced many young people to take the test in recent years.

The exam will be held this Saturday for one hour and 40 minutes, from 10 a.m. until 11:40 a.m., and will consist of five subjects, at 20 minutes each. The test results will be announced on Oct. 1.

BY KANG JIN-KYU [jkkang2@joongang.co.kr]
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