| Global Times | 2012-10-22 20:30:03
By Zhang Wen
A total of 7,186 recent graduates have applied for a series of sanitation posts, including maintenance and street cleaning positions, after an announcement was posted on the official website of the Harbin Human Resources and Social Security Bureau (HHRSSB) on September 22, prompting many to question whether such work is suitable for college graduates.
According to the online announcement, the Harbin municipal government plans to recruit 457 sanitation workers: 307 vehicle drivers, 30 vehicle maintenance workers and 120 street cleaners. The capital city of Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province will hire qualified individuals under the age of 30 from across the country who graduated from vocational schools or hold advanced degrees.
All applicants are required to take a qualifying examination in November, and those who pass will be invited to come in for an interview. Successful candidates will undergo a six-month probation period before being officially taken on by the sanitation division.
New recruits will receive a salary and benefits and be given the opportunity for promotion to management-level positions after three years of excellent job performance.
A staff member of the publicity department at the HHRSSB told the Global Times that 7,186 people had registered for the examination by 6 pm on October 16, the deadline. According to the government employee, 29 applicants hold a master's degree, accounting for 0.4 percent, and 2,954 hold a bachelor's degree, accounting for 41.11 percent of the group, and the rest are graduates of vocational schools.
The online registration system shows that 3,378 applicants are vying for positions as vehicle drivers, 216 as vehicle maintenance staff and 3,301 as street cleaners.
The large number of applicants competing for the sanitation posts has sparked a heated discussion. Some people hold that degreed individuals working in the field will ensure better city management, while others contend that it is a waste of human resources for college graduates to toil in sanitation.
An official from the sanitation office of the Harbin Municipal City Management and Law Enforcement Bureau who declined to be named told the Global Times that older, less educated staff have trouble adjusting to equipment upgrades and new technology.
"The main responsibility for new sanitation staff will be to clean streets," the official said. "This is entry-level training for them, where they will learn the basics. Our main purpose is to build a cohort of talents to move into management-level posts after two or three years."
Feng Jin, a professor with the Employment and Social Security Research Center at Fudan University, said that most applicants are likely attracted to the stable income and benefits that come with landing a job at a public service institution. In addition, these young workers will also have the ability to transfer more easily to other governmental departments once they are inside the system.
Feng also pointed out that most of the degreed applicants are likely uninterested in actually working in sanitation.
"We need to bridge the income and benefits gap between private and State-owned enterprises and public service institutions to improve the labor market," Feng said.
In 2009, the sanitation division of the Zhangjiagang Municipal City Management and Law Enforcement Bureau in East China's Jiangsu Province recruited five recent graduates, two of whom held bachelor's degrees. The six-month probation period they underwent included street cleaning, rubbish disposal, and toilet cleaning, and now they all hold upper-level positions.
"They are doing quite well in their posts," said Liu Kanghua, a staff member in the sanitation division. Liu added that five more recent graduates were hired last March, and they are now working as team leaders and helping forge a brighter future for the city.
"We need well-educated workers that have a knowledge of basic-level posts and modern management to make our city more environmentally friendly," said Liu.
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