Youth can become more informed global citizens by learning about child labor and related topics

Learning about jobs and labor, and other topics related to Goal 8 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, can help to inform youth as active global citizens.


Leaders from 193 countries have agreed to increase economic growth, create jobs and reduce unemployment, protect the rights of workers, and eliminate forced labor and child labor by the year 2030, which is Goal 8 of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals. The Sustainable Development Goals are 17 interconnected goals that seek to transform our world by ending all forms of poverty, eliminating inequalities and improving the state of the world’s natural and human-made environments through sustained international cooperation and efforts over the next 15 years.

By learning about, taking action and teaching others about the need for decent work and economic growth around the world, young people can play a valuable leadership role in helping to accomplish Goal 8, as well as the other Sustainable Development Goals. Here are five important facts, and some educational resources, related to Goal 8 of the Sustainable Development Goals that can help youth learn and be engaged as global citizens.

  • Nearly 2.2 billion people, about one-third of the global population, live on less than $2 per day, according to the UN. “Decent Work and Economic Growth: Why it Matters” by the UN states that 780 million men and women are working, but not earning enough to lift themselves and their families out of poverty.
  • As of 2015, nearly 200 million people globally were unemployed, according to the International Labour Organization. That number is nearly equal to the population of the Brazil, which is the country with the fifth highest population in the world.
  • More than 76 million jobs have been lost (globally) since 2007 and the International Labour Organization predicts that the number of lost jobs will continue to grow in the next few years.
  • The number of unemployed youth is expected to reach 71 million in 2016, which is equal to an unemployment level of 13.1 percent, according to the International Labor Organization.
  • “Thirty million jobs will be required every year for new entrants to the labor market to keep up with the growth of the global working age population,” according to “Decent Work and Economic Growth: Why it Matters” by the UN.

Goal 8 of the Sustainable Development Goals seeks to ensure jobs and “decent work” are available for all working age people in the world. Decent work is defined by the UN as “opportunities for everyone to get work that is productive and delivers a fair income, security in the workplace and social protection for families, better prospects for personal development and social integration.”

Goal 8 includes target goals specifically related to youth and other vulnerable populations. One target of the goal is to “take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labor, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labor, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labor in all its forms.” Child labor is defined by the UN as “work that is prohibited for children of certain age groups. It is work performed by children who are under the minimum age legally specified for that kind of work, or work which, because of its detrimental nature or conditions, is considered unacceptable for children and is prohibited.”

Adult and youth leaders can help other youth and children learn about topics related to Goal 8 of the Sustainable Development Goals in order to be informed and active global citizens. Here are some activities and lesson plans that can be used to help teach others about these issues.

Michigan State University Extension and the Michigan 4-H Youth Development program help to prepare youth as positive and engaged leaders and global citizens by providing educational experiences and resources for youth interested in developing knowledge and skills in these areas. To learn about the positive impact of Michigan 4-H youth leadership, civic engagement, citizenship and global/cultural programs, read our 2015 Impact Report: “Developing Civically Engaged Leaders.”

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