The General Office of Population and Family Planning said at a press conference that Vietnam’s population has entered the “golden” stage.

Dinh Cong Thoan, an official of the organization, said the country’s “golden population” stage will start next year when 67 percent of the population, or 59.5 million people, are expected to be of working age – from 15 to 59.

From then on 1.4 million people will be added to the labor force each year until 2020, when the workforce will comprise 64.6 million people, accounting for 65 percent of the population at the time.

Duong Quoc Trong, temporary head of the office, said Vietnam’s labor force demographics have been evaluated by international experts as a positive factor for boosting economic growth.

Yet this stage also poses a big challenge for creating jobs and using laborers effectively, he added.

Trong said a mature population would really help if it is of good quality, adding it was not very high at the moment.

Vietnam’s juvenile and youth are physically weaker than their peers worldwide and in the Asian region. Only 30 percent of the workforce is trained and eight percent are holding some degrees.

Thus the market value of Vietnamese workers abroad is still low, he said.

The golden population stage is supposed to last for 30 years before the population turns old, yet the office head warned that Vietnam’s population was aging faster than expected.

The country already had 7.5 percent of its population at 65 years or above in 2008, six to seven years earlier than expected.

As taking care of an old person is many times more expensive than a child, Trong said an old population will be a big challenge to a country that is not wealthy.

“An old population is the picture of a rich country but we’re getting old before we become rich.”

By Lien Chau - August 21, 2009