Competing against in-service graduates unfair

Say fresh graduates because in service candidates take up their share of seats in the civil service

BCSE: The fierce competition to work in the civil service has left fresh university graduates locking horns with in-service graduates.

Of the 392 graduates who got selected in the civil service examination this year, 51 are in-service candidates. The ratio of selected in-service candidates to fresh candidates stands at 51: 341, which means there is at least one in-service candidate for six fresh graduates.

Five of the 37 selected for post-graduate diploma in public administration are in-service while in-service candidates took seven of the 30 seats in PGD financial management category. Of the 123 selected for PGD education, eight were in-service.

In the technical category, in-service candidates took 30 of the total 181 seats while a lone in-service candidate was selected for the 21 seats in dzongkha category.

That in-service candidates are taking seats that were otherwise for them is unfair, say fresh graduates. Unlike in-service candidates who have the option to return to their earlier position, fresh graduates say they have none.

A BSc Forestry graduate, Karma scored 61.83 percent in the civil service examination and ranked 14 among 58 graduates.

However, there were only 13 seats for forestry graduates and Karma said she could have easily got into the civil service had 10 of the seats not been taken by in-service graduates.

Many graduates like Karma who scored well in the main examination argue that in-service graduates take their share of seats in the civil service. More disappointed are the ones who studied under government scholarships, like Karma herself.

“It is unfair that despite performing well, we can’t get a job in the civil service,” she said. “Considering the current unemployment scenario in Bhutan, this in-service occupancy will worsen the issue.”

Another fresh graduate said it was discouraging that in-service candidates with experience and an option to return to their previous position are allowed to compete with them. “When we can’t get a job in the civil service, government’s expenditure in educating us is wasted,” she said.

In-service candidates agree that they competing with fresh graduates is unfair and that their complaints are valid.

But in-service candidates have their own share of issues with the system. According to them, those who pass by scoring 50 percent and above but do not get selected should be placed in the Professional and Management Position Category.

In-service candidates argue that since they have upgraded their qualification, they do not need to be ranked at par with fresh graduates and instead be placed directly at the Professional and Management Position Category, as long as they pass with 50 percent marks.

The Bhutan Civil Service Rules 2012 allows continuing education to enhance qualification and knowledge of civil servants.

But on completion of the degree, if a civil servant does not get selected in the main examination, he/she will join the civil service in the old position. Getting through the examination would place them at Professional and Management Position Category.

“I don’t mind continuing in my old position but at least after passing BCSE, I feel I should not be stagnated at P3 level,” a 35-year-old in-service graduate said adding that stagnation after up grading their qualification was demotivating.

The civil service commission identified Position Classification System as a major area of concern while reforming the civil service system. It concerns civil servants in the Supervisory and Support (S&S) Position Category.

RCSC chairperson Dasho Karma Tshiteen said, through the reforms, the commission is planning to change the S&S position category structure in such a manner that all people who are in this position category will have additional career ladders, such as senior supervisory positions.

Senior supervisory positions will overlap with the Professional and Management Position category and go as high as SS 1, which will be equivalent to P2, he said.

“We are doing this because we realize this is an important group in terms of the services the civil service has to provide,” he said. “We recognize that for this group, experience matters and therefore, extending the career path will help us retain people in this group.”

The commission in September last year amended two sections of the civil service rules to allow in-service candidates interested in pursuing continuing education without having to resign. However, they would have to get selected in the BCSE to be placed in the Professional and Management service group.

The amendment came into effect since September 2014. However, the amendment will not apply to in-service candidates whose study leave were approved prior to 12 September 2014, Dasho Karma Tshiteem said.

Nirmala Pokhrel

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