Why is Decent Work and Economic growth important

Employment and productivity are major drivers of a positive development of a society. Economic growth refers to the increase in productivity, which leads to greater wealth that can be channeled into education, healthcare and infrastructure. This in turn leads to greater skill building and entrepreneurial activities which further generates employment and thus leads to a socio-economic upliftment for people suffering from poverty.

Greater employment and decent jobs lead to an improvement of living standards and progresses the society towards a more harmonious and peaceful situation. As per the Sustainable Development Goals Report-2020, decent work refers to a job opportunity which provides fair employment, with a fair pay, productive outcome, and job protection and security. Decent work essentially allows an individual to work in a manner that is productive and enables self development social integration.

However, decent work is a goal that is yet to be reached. UNDP, although recognizes the progress in declining poverty and increased middle-class employment; also highlights as taken from the International Labour Organization data that approximately 200 million people still remain unemployed.

Therefore the need arises for development oriented policy formulation in order to promote employment and entrepreneurship, productivity and innovation. Growth and support to small scale and medium scale industries is also essential for generating employment opportunities and decent work. UNDP sees decent work and economic growth to not only improve the state of the economy, but also act as measures against slavery, poverty and trafficking.

8 Decent Work and Economic growth

Understanding the root cause for lack of decent work

Decent work refers to dignified and fair work. There is a lack of employment in countries due to slow economic growth wherein the productivity happens at a rate that does not create sufficient demand to further generate employment. And the employment generated is in no way decent, due to the less than minimum wage pay and unsafe working conditions for the majority of the population.

Economic productivity is also something that requires diversified investment and development of different industries and technologies, which require wealth that most nations either do not possess due to conflicts and oppression, or divert towards military spending. The lack of incentives or trade offs for entrepreneurship also locks the potential for innovation and value. There is also an issue of the extensive costs incurred in the form of environmental damage due to ill-planned economic growth, which further exposes minorities and oppressed communities to vulnerabilities and disproportionate negative impacts.

Covid-19 has further deteriorated the situation by causing mass global unemployment in the wake of halting physical economic movement and interactions. The Sustainable Development Goals Report-2020 shows that one in every six young people has been rendered unemployed as a result of the pandemic, whereas the people who remain employed have had a 23% cut in their working hours.

Changemakers fighting for decent work and economic growth

International Labour Organization (ILO) is a globally known and acknowledged organization that works for the interests of individuals involved in employment, by providing them financial education, legal support and ensuring safe and secure working conditions for all. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is an entity of the UN which promotes and supports economic development of under-resourced regions while implementing sustainable development policies in place. International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is a global independent, non-governmental organization with networks across 166 nations vis a vis its standard bodies, which come together to create strategies based on market consensus, for economic innovation and challenges. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is an international organization which is formed through an alliance of its 38 member states, who come together to cooperate, support and stimulate trade and economic progress. United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is another UN entity that promotes local culture and boosts regional economic activity through promotion of tourism.

What youth can do as a TAL transformer

Economic growth is enabled by the different sectors of the economy working towards productivity by ensuring decent work for everyone to have a share in participating in the progress of a nation’s economy.

What you as a transformer for the society can do, is use social advocacy, philanthropy and entrepreneurial/business ideas in an innovative manner to provide a progressive direction for reaching the goal. Instances of which are as follows:

Social Advocacy

  • Promote women employment and economic empowerment
  • Formulate economic and eco-friendly policies which are inclusive and productive
  • Educate regarding programs for economic response and recovery

Social Philanthropy

  • Invest in youth education and training
  • Invest in developing sustainable tourism for generating economic interactions
  • Extend the development of banking, financial and insurance services

Social Entrepreneurship

  • Promote youth upskilling, employment and entrepreneurial creativity
  • Implementing safety and health measures as part of protection granted to employees
  • Formulate global economic resource efficient policies and strategies for consumption and production


United Nations (2020). The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2020. New York: United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Retrieved from https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/report/2020/


Sowmya Vunnam
Sustainability Program Manager