- Training schools are the biggest beneficiary from the NCSE craze.
- Stability has become the most important factor for job seekers since the Covid-19 pandemic.
- On average, only 1 of every 61 exam takers would pass the first round.
Having graduated from one of the best universities in China, Na still hasn’t found a job in six months. “Sometimes I even think about becoming a waitress. But my family wouldn’t allow me. It’s a disgrace for their reputation. But here in Xinjiang, there are barely any good job offers.” Finding no better way out, she signed up for the next National Civil Service Examination (NCSE), which led to a second problem: should she sign up for a training course?
“I took the NCSE once in college without much preparation and failed. This time I wanted to study on my own again, but my parents suggested that I join a class, which is very expensive.” In the end, Na’s sister paid over $1,600 for a two-week course, as an investment for her future. This short NCSE course has a full-money-back guarantee in case Na doesn’t succeed in the exam, something that many NCSE training schools offer.
It’s a giant casino: as long as they have enough students, a certain proportion of them will succeed and thus pay the over-priced fees. Those that fail the exam, on the other hand, can also give these schools a huge amount of stable short-term loans that they can invest elsewhere freely. Under the anxiety net weaved together by the society and the families, NCSE training schools are becoming the biggest beneficiary.
The leading NCSE training school, Zhonggong Education, has tripled its market value in barely two years. Analysts say the NCSE training market will reach over $5.3 billion in 2022.
As for how to sell this “anxiety”, every school has its way. “You’re working in Beijing? Private company, I guess? “996” working schedules, no weekend, very possible to be fired before turning 35 years old… Becoming a civil servant still has its charm. But it has a requirement of age, so you have to decide fast.”
Many people that have consulted training schools about their classes admit that the schools are making them nervous. “It’s like if someone else signs up for it then I’ll be the one to fail the exam.”
According to the government, over 1.58 million people have signed up for the 2021 NCSE, the average passing rate being 61:1. The hottest position has attracted 3,334 people to compete for one spot.
But being a civil servant is like a fortress besieged: those who are outside want to get in, and those who are inside want to get out. On Zhihu, many current low-level civil servants complain that it’s not for people with few family resources. But at the moment, nothing will stop the army of NCSE takers, whose vision of being a civil servant comes from schools that just want to squeeze some more money out of them.