Developing countries with large youth populations could see their economies soar if they invest in educating young people, protecting their rights and keeping them healthy, according to the 2014 World Population Report.

The UN Population Fund and the Centre for Central Youth and Adolescents released the report on November 19, titled “The power of 1.8 billion: Adolescents, youth and the transformation of the future.”

Economies grow more when the country's working-age population is larger than the dependent population, according to the report. But to maximise growth, countries must ensure the young people approaching working age are equipped to seize job opportunities.

“Vietnam has entered a golden population period, recording the highest proportion of young people in the country's history," said Arthur Erken, the UN Population Fund's representative in Vietnam.

Young people between 10 and 20 made up nearly 40 percent of the population. This window of time where Vietnam had so many youth was a unique opportunity for the country to ensure that people were educated and supported so they could achieve their full potential, Erken said.

"We can't afford to let this period be wasted," he said.

In order to harness the booming young population, Vietnam needed policies that would improve its workforce's quality, he said. It should expand education and training programmes, and improve the business investment environment to help generate sufficient jobs for young people entering the labour market, he said.

“Only when we aim high today we will make that young person's future a brighter one, with rights and promises fulfilled," said Le Quoc Phong, Secretary of the Vietnam Youth's Union.

The Government, ministries and agencies should allow Vietnamese youth to participate more in designing and analysing the policies that affect them to ensure they meet their needs, Phong said.

"Young people are the innovators, creators, builders and leaders of the future," said Babatunde Osotimehim, Executive Director of the UN Population Fund. "But they can transform the future only if they have skills, health, decision-making and real choices in life."-VNA