Participants in a running programme in Hanoi (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – An international symposium took place in Hanoi on October 19 to suggest policy solutions towards helping Vietnam develop sustainably amid demographic changes.

Vice President of the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences (VASS) Dang Nguyen Anh said the country has a big population compared to other nations in Southeast Asia. It is facing many new demographic challenges, particularly population aging, migration, and the imbalance in the ratio of men to women.

In order to stay on track with sustainable development, the country needs solutions to demographic problems, he noted.

Statistics in 2012 show that the over-15-year-old population numbered 52.3 million and will reach 53.1 million by 2020. Anh said this is a big opportunity to boost economic growth but also causes a very big pressure on employment and how to use the abundant workforce effectively. The crux of the issue is that the Vietnamese workforce still lacks technical skills, unable to meet the requirements of the national industrialisation and modernisation period.

Vietnam entered the “golden population structure” period in 2006, with almost 60 percent of its population at working age. The dependency ratio dropped to 50 percent in 2007 and 42.1 percent in 2014, but it is forecast to bounce back to reach 55.2 percent by 2049.

People of working age, between 15 and 64, accounted for 69.11 percent of the population in 2009. The over-15 workforce has made up 59 percent of the population since 2012 and will continue to grow by 1 percent annually to 53.15 million people in 2020.

Deputy Director of the VASS’s Institute of Sociology Nguyen Duc Vinh said that in order to develop sustainably, Vietnam needs to optimise the potential of its population, while concurrently limiting and coping with the adverse impact of demographic changes. It should not let the birth rate decline too sharply, which could lead to rapid population aging, but make use of the “golden population structure” to improve population quality and help with industrialisation and modernisation.

He said Vietnam’s “golden population” period may last for some 30-35 years and end in 2040. This is a good chance for the country to boost the division of labour if the education-training system is able to equip the workforce with necessary knowledge and skills. However, it also poses certain challenges due to the low educational level and skills shortage among Vietnamese labourers.

Participants said Vietnam needs to be well aware of the role of population in sustainable development. In the coming time, the country should create a high-quality workforce, diversify occupations in rural areas, enhance the quality of labour-intensive industries to increase job opportunities, and promote jobs that can generate high value so as to ensure social welfare when it enters a more mature population period. –VNA