4 December 2012

A characteristic that the 19th century civil service in New Zealand adopted from Britain was a qualification process to identify quality entrants.  A civil service examination – which morphed into the public service entrance examination after 1913 – was run for much of the period between 1870 and 1940. Until it was suspended during World War II upwards of 2000 students  passed the exam which was conducted in the final term each year about the same time as the Maticulation / University Entrance exam.

Successful candidates were notified of their place on the pass list. Passing the exam was the entitlement to be considered for a probationary appointment.  There was no assurance of appointment.  However only successful candidates were eligible for appointment to a permanent position. In a time of limited employment opportunities, candidates competed for a high pass which gave better prospects of selection.

The public service entrance examination had fallen from favour by WWII. The exam was scrapped in 1959. By then School Certificate had become the recognised entry qualification.

The Civil Service in China today provides a similar prospect of permanent work that made the NZ Public Service attractive for much of its history. The civil service exam was conducted across China last week.   A record of 1.12 million graduates sat the exam having already passed an initial assessment.

The media report is that about 60,000 will qualify to compete for 20,000 positions in 140 government agencies.

The media has carried reports of prospective female candidates protesting about Regulations which require that they undergo invasive gynaecological checks as part of the pre examination assessment. Some see the purpose as a way of discouraging their candidacy.