SINGAPORE: To become a truly innovative society, the culture of perseverance and hard work must continue to be relevant to new generations, said Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam on Friday night (Jun 17).
Speaking at the inaugural Singapore Teochew Entrepreneur Award dinner, which recognises Teochew entrepreneurs for positive contributions to business and society, Mr Tharman said old values, which are the basis for success for any business, matter.
This is especially true of new industries as they succeed not just by having good ideas, but by persisting in spite of failure, Minister Tharman said.
"Many employers give us feedback that something is changing in our new generation, those who are starting work or who are early in their careers – people do not stay long on the job, and are impatient to move on, fewer believe in learning the ropes, taking time to develop skills on the job and working their way up.
“There is less hunger compared to 20 years ago, and of course compared to 40 or 50 years ago. It is not something we have hard data on, but the qualitative feedback is common and widespread."
Mr Tharman said this was in some ways a natural result of the tight labour market, where more jobs were available than there were job seekers.
He added that the solution was not to create more unemployment so as to get a sense of hunger among the young.
Instead, Mr Tharman suggested a culture of perseverance and improving continuously on the job could be instilled in new generations, starting by helping children in school develop a passion for what they do.
He also urged employers to focus on the culture within their organisations and not just on technology.
"We must spend time to develop our people, individually, and give everyone a sense of opportunity if they work hard in their careers, no matter where they start from. We must also develop a less hierarchical culture – one that empowers every individual, and helps them to see how their ideas, their experiments and their efforts to do the job well contribute to the whole enterprise,” said the Deputy Prime Minister.