In the fiction, we are within the borders of a fictive totalitarian dictatorship, which along with the rest of the world has collapsed. The dictatorship is simply referred to as the State.
Throughout the State there are several National Career Centers, known colloquially as sorting camps. Once a citizen has finished primary school at 14 years old, they are sent to one of these camps.
Here, the government tests their abilities and usefulness through a highly effective and exhausting couple of days. The candidates are stripped of individuality, including their clothes and names. Instead, they wear identical uniforms and are referred to by a number. At the end of the rigorous test it’s decided what work placement the citizen is best suited for.
The tests range from assessment of a person’s physical and mental abilities, endurance, discipline and patriotism and more. Citizens are given a range of tasks, some seemingly pointless, while others require patience and teamwork. The adolescents are scrutinized and watched closely. Any and all sign of dissent, poor judgment or lack of discipline is punished, while patriotism, obedience and good team work is praised.
All citizens in the State go through these camps. A large number of people are sorted to agriculture or to the military forces, but the national camps provide work force to all functions in society. Once placed in the career, it’s not possible to appeal the decision.
There is no free will in choice of career. The government, represented by the staff at the camps, makes the choice for all citizens, but a person’s talents and skills can definitely guide the sorting. As can speaking up about the wrong thing at the wrong time.