Five hundred of the nation's brightest graduates will be recruited to work in underprivileged communal administrations across the country in a new effort to reduce poverty rates and promote economic development of rural communities.

According to Vu Dang Minh, head of the Youth Affairs Department at the Ministry of Home Affairs, the project will select individuals with bachelor degrees compatible with the requirements by local administrations to provide much needed expertise.

"For example, we will choose applicants majoring in law to work for the commune's judicial sector. Or if it is in shortage of accountants, we will select applicants who majored in accounting or finance. Applicants should also be prioritised to work in their hometown," he added.

In addition to being university educated, applicants must be under 30 and ready to work in poor areas or disadvantaged mountainous ethnic-populated regions for a period of at least five years.

The four-phase project began last year with an initial survey, with the second phase of selecting, training and appointing 300 applicants to positions in 2014. The remaining 200 graduates will be recruited in 2015 to end their five-year term in 2020.

The programme has received mixed reactions for critics, with some arguing an application process not based on examinations might become subject to bias or unfair practices, according to Minh.

The ministry has pledged to organise public interviews to select applicants who are most deserving.

The programme, however, is not the first of its kind. In the period between 2000 and 2002, more than 500 officials were appointed to work across 125 communes in 10 provinces to tackle illiteracy rates and help develop agriculture and forestry.

More recently, 559 university graduates were selected and trained to become communal vice chairpersons in the 62 poorest districts in a project that will run until 2020.-VNA