The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved creation of a National Recruitment Agency (NRA) to conduct an online Common Eligibility Test for selecting candidates for majority of central government jobs, an official statement said.
Briefing the media on the Cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, information and broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said it was a historic decision that will allow job-seekers take one common test and save costs and time spent on writing multiple exams.
The NRA will set up examination centres in every district of the country to help youths, especially women, from rural and far flung areas of the country, as they won't be required to travel to another place to take recruitment tests, the statement issued by the personnel ministry said.
At present, "candidates have to appear in multiple examinations conducted by multiple agencies. Apart from the examination fees, candidates have to incur additional expenses for travel, boarding, lodging. A single examination would reduce the financial burden on candidates to a large extent", it said.
A Common Eligibility Test or CET would enable these candidates to appear once and apply to any or all of these recruitment agencies for the higher level of examination. This would indeed be a boon to all the candidates, the statement said.
On an average, 2.5-3 crore candidates appear in each of these examinations, it said.
Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh, who also addressed the media with Javadekar, termed the decision to set up the NRA as a historic, visionary and revolutionary reform in the field of recruitment for central government jobs.
It will lead to ease of selection, ease of job placement and ease of living, especially for those sections of society that are considered disadvantaged, he said.
The multi-agency body NRA will conduct a separate CET each for the three levels of graduate, higher secondary (12th pass) and the matriculate (10 th pass) candidates for those non-technical posts to which recruitment is currently carried out by the Staff Selection Commission, the Railway Recruitment Boards and by the Institute of Banking Personnel Selection.
Based on the screening done at the CET score level, final selection for recruitment shall be made through separate specialised Tiers (II, III etc) of examination which shall be conducted by the respective recruitment agencies.
"The curriculum for this test would be common as would be the standard. This would greatly ease the burden of candidates who are at present required to prepare for each of the examinations separately as per different curriculum," the statement said.
The government has sanctioned a sum of Rs 1,517.57 crore for NRA, it said, adding that the expenditure will be undertaken over a period of three years.
"Apart from setting up the NRA, costs will be incurred for setting up examination infrastructure in the 117 aspirational districts," the statement said.
It said women candidates especially from rural areas face constraints in appearing in multiple examinations as they have to arrange for transportation and places to stay in places that are far away.
"The location of test centres in every district would greatly benefit candidates from rural areas in general and women candidates in particular," the statement said.
Under the NRA, the candidates by appearing in one examination will get an opportunity to compete for many posts.
"NRA will conduct the first-level /Tier I examination which is the stepping stone for many other selections. The CET score of the candidate shall be valid for a period of three years from the date of declaration of the result," it said.
There shall be no restriction on the number of attempts to be taken by a candidate to appear in the CET subject to the upper age limit, the statement said.
"Relaxation in the upper age limit shall be given to candidates of SC/ST/OBC and other categories as per the extant policy of the government," it said.
This would go a long way in mitigating the hardship of candidates who spend a considerable amount of time, money and effort preparing and giving these examinations every year, the statement said.
Candidates would have the facility of registering on a common portal and give a choice of centres. Based on availability, they would be allotted centres.
"The CET would be available in a number of languages. This would greatly facilitate people from different parts of the country to take the exam and have an equal opportunity of being selected," it said.
A single eligibility test would significantly reduce the recruitment cycle, the statement said.
"Some departments have indicated their intention to do away with any second level test and go ahead with recruitment on the basis of CET scores, physical tests and medical examination. This would greatly reduce the cycle and benefit a large section of youth," it said.