Children receive their jobs when they turn twelve.
Jonas’s community leaves nothing to chance. Every aspect of the citizens’ lives is scheduled and orchestrated, to ensure that there are no surprises. The assignment process is a perfect example of how controlling the community is.
First of all, all children born in a year are considered the same age, regardless of when they were born. The children all turn the next year older during a special set of ceremonies in December. The most important is the Ceremony of Twelve, where children known as Elevens receive the job they will have for life.
It was a secret selection, made by the leaders of the community, the Committee of Elders, who took the responsibility so seriously that there were never even any jokes made about Assignments. (Ch. 2)
The community has most of the jobs that every city has, with a few additions. Since there is complete population control, the community uses Birthmothers to deliver babies. These are likely test tube babies, genetically modified and created in a lab. The babies are raised by Nurturers until they reach the age of One, and then they are assigned family units (a man, a woman, one boy, and one girl).
Assignments are based on close observation of children, especially the Elevens. A committee of elders tests for aptitude, personality, talents, and interests. This committee then assigns each child the job that will be his or her job for life. There is no changing jobs, and everyone gets one. The children are also not told ahead of time.
Unlike his father, he had no idea what his Assignment would be. But he knew that some would disappoint him. Though he respected his father's work, Nurturer would not be his wish. And he didn't envy Laborers at all. (Ch. 2)
Jonas’s assignment is a very unusual one. He is selected to be the Receiver of Memory, which is a prestigious position. In it, he will have honor and huge responsibility, but not necessarily power. The elders are the ones who have the power. The Receiver just advises. He alone knows what has happened in the past, because he holds the community’s memories from generations ago.