Vietnam’s major exports include its famed coffee beans and minor ones like tea, but from scooter maker Piaggio to prominent local businessmen, investors are making their biggest bets on the Vietnamese consumer.
At the heart of this gamble is a demographic shift in Vietnam that could mirror the economic transformation of mid-sized countries such as South Korea, driven by both rapid industrialisation and new entrants into the work force who will help power output as well as consumption.
Of Vietnam’s population of around 87 million people, nearly half is in the labour force. The median age of 28.5 years makes it a young crowd, and one that is increasingly moving from rural areas to bustling cities such as Ho Chi Minh City as part of government plans to turn Vietnam into a middle income country.
There are a couple of issues related to the demand for quality education and training both in-country and overseas. First, the overall median age is 27.4 years (compared with 36.8 in the U.S. and 44.3 in Germany). Secondly, because of cultural and economic reasons, education is and will remain a high priority investment for the foreseeable future. As mentioned in a previous post, of the $40 billion in cash in Vietnam, $10 billion is in the hands (and safes) of individuals.
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