Many engineers and MBAs are among over 4,600 people who have applied for 14 posts of sanitary workers and sweepers at the Tamil Nadu Secretariat in Chennai, the Hindustan Times reported on Wednesday. Others are graduates in commerce, arts and science streams.

Of the 4,607 people who applied for the jobs, applications of 677 were rejected as they did not conform to the age criterion. Ten of the vacant posts are for sanitary workers, and four for sweepers. The salary has been fixed at Rs 15,700 to Rs 50,000, the daily reported.

The applicants belong to all sections of society, caste groups, and geographical regions, The Times of India reported. They come from urban, semi-urban and rural areas. Some applicants live in Chennai.

An unidentified official in the Tamil Nadu Assembly told the daily that they were surprised to find so many applications for the two posts. “The presence of professional degree holders among them is more intriguing,” he added.

All the applicants had applied for the posts through the employment exchange. The Assembly official said that the pay, starting at Rs 17,000 per month, could be one of the reasons for the large number of applications. However, he added that the process of selection will be completed only after the Lok Sabha elections.

Labour economist M Vijayabaskar said many engineers and other graduates are jobless in Tamil Nadu. “We may be an industrialised state, but companies are shifting from labour-intensive production to machine-intensive production,” he said.

Tamil Nadu Government Employees’ Association General Secretary M Ambarasu said government jobs have become more attractive after the recommendations of the Seventh Pay Commission were implemented. He said that when government teachers went on strike in the state, around 3 lakh applications were received within days for the post of temporary teachers.

An unpublished report by the National Sample Survey Office has shown that unemployment was at its highest in 45 years in 2017-’18.