Age isn't just a number: Rethinking civil service recruitment
  ·  2024-04-17  ·   Source: NO.16 APRIL 18, 2024

For decades, the upper age limit for civil service applicants in China has been set at 35. Lately, however, there has been much (renewed) discussion on Weibo, a popular Chinese microblogging platform, about the possibility of raising the upper age limit for certain positions within the civil service to 40.

While the topic is nothing new, it continues to ignite debates within Chinese society, particularly with an influx of recent college graduates and white-collar professionals reentering the job market to make a new start.

The Civil Servant Law does not specify any age limit for civil service recruitment. The Provisions on Civil Servant Recruitment issued in 2019 stipulated that applicants must be at least 18 years old and under 35 years old, serving as the basis for the establishment of the upper age limit of 35 for civil service applicants. The document also said this requirement can be adjusted upon approval by authorities at or above the provincial level.

However, the challenge of removing the upper age limit is complex and based on practical factors. In China's civil service promotion system, individuals usually begin at the lowest level and rise through the ranks. If new recruits are comparatively older when they enter at the bottom level, they might encounter difficulties and potential discomfort as they have to work with younger colleagues who have already moved up to higher positions within the hierarchy.

The age limit to participate in the required examinations for certain civil service positions in Henan and Shandong provinces, for example, has been increased to 40, according to recently issued recruitment plans. Public calls for a broad relaxation of the upper age limit of 35 remain strong.

Xiong Bingqi ( The recruitment practices of government departments in hiring civil servants can significantly influence the recruitment strategies of other organizations and employers. In China, the age of 35 serves as a critical threshold for employment or reemployment in many sectors. This unreasonable upper age limit should be removed to ensure equal opportunities for job seekers of all ages, especially in the context of China's aging population, which necessitates a shift in policy. 

Regarding civil service recruitment, a key step is revising the Provisions on Civil Servant Recruitment to address barriers to eliminating the age limit of 35. The limit should be adjusted to reflect social developments and changes. To combat age discrimination and promote a more rational approach to age in the job market, the related regulations and laws must evolve in line with the changing times.

Long Minfei (China Women's News): In recent years, the age limit to partake in civil service recruitment examinations has been slightly relaxed in some provinces, likely in response to strong public demand. The age limit of 35 has been extensively applied in recruitment exams and has become a job market standard. After 35, many people find it hard to secure satisfactory employment; in turn, this often leads to financial instability.

Offering them the opportunity to participate in the civil service recruitment examination could not only benefit government departments but also encourage other organizations and private companies to follow suit, thereby improving their career prospects.

Plus, most people reach the peak of their comprehensive abilities, encompassing both work experience and innovative capacity, in their mid-30s. Denying them the chance to climb the professional ladder would be a waste of talent as well as hinder the use of social resources. In sum, the relaxation of the upper age limit to partake in the examinations for certain civil service positions in several regions represents an encouraging step forward.

Copyedited by Elsbeth van Paridon

Comments to

China Focus
Special Reports
About Us
Contact Us
Advertise with Us
Partners:   |   China Today   |   China Hoy   |   China Pictorial   |   People's Daily Online   |   Women of China   |   Xinhua News Agency
China Daily   |   CGTN   |   China Tibet Online   |   China Radio International   |   Global Times   |   Qiushi Journal
Copyright Beijing Review All rights reserved 京ICP备08005356号 京公网安备110102005860