Sustainability is the new youth revolution

Picture of boxes with SDG on them.
Danish companies need to have a focus on sustainability, if they want to attract young people in the future, shows the 2018 VIA Business Analysis.  
If Danish companies want to be sure of attracting talented, young employees in the future, they would be wise to focus on sustainability. This is evident in a 2018 VIA Business Analysis published by VIA University College.

The analysis spots tendencies within private industries for which VIA educates, and is based on interviews with over 100 different companies large and small, as well as on the opinions of 850 students. And the students, in particular, are unequivocal in what they have to say: 89 per cent said that whether a company is sustainable or not influences their choice of workplace.

When students have to choose from a wide range of parameters, it is most important for nine out of ten that the company focuses on the environment, that it recycles resources and that it inspires its customers to choose sustainable solutions.

The result does not surprise Birgitte Woge Nielsen, coordinator of the Student Incubator at VIA University College in Aarhus and a lecturer on the physiotherapy educational programme at the same campus. She meets many young people who dream of starting their own businesses and, for many of them, sustainability is a natural part of their plans.

“My experience is that it’s largely young people who are taking the lead in sustainability. They have grown up with the understanding that our way of life needs to change in many areas, and their concern about what needs to happen is much greater than the older generation realises,” she says.

Circular advice

In order to meet the needs of the green start-ups, the Student Incubator has developed a new business model, Grow a Business, in collaboration with Central Denmark Region and with the support of Danish Entrepreneurship Award. The model combines Business Model Canvas’s economic approach with social responsibility and environmental sustainability. The model ensures that Birgitte Woge Nielsen covers all aspects when she advises entrepreneurial students.

“We can’t fob off our understanding of the issue on the students, but we can ensure that they see some new paths – ones they might not yet be aware of. For example, they can target green consumers – who are willing to pay more to take care of the earth – more directly,” she says.

According to the Business & Sustainable Development Commission, there is an annual financial potential of 12 trillion USD in creating business based on the UN’s 17 sustainability development goals. The Commission, established in connection with the economic summit in Davos in 2016, consists of 37 experts from the world’s leading universities.