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Innovative society needs younger generation that perseveres: Tharman

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There are signs of less hunger and patience among the younger generation in Singapore, said Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Deputy Prime Minister, and Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies, on Friday.

THERE are signs of less hunger and patience among the younger generation in Singapore, said Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Deputy Prime Minister, and Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies, on Friday.

Speaking at the Teochew Entrepreneur Award dinner, he urged young people to keep on persevering - essential to mastering skills, and in building innovation - and which was an entrepreneurial spirit from the early days.

"Many employers give us feedback that something is changing in our new generation, those who are starting work or are early in their careers. People do not stay long on the job, and are impatient to move on," he said.

Mr Tharman added that fewer younger people today believe in learning the ropes, taking time to develop skills on the job, and working their way up. This is in some ways a natural result of the tight labour market Singapore has had for several years now, he said.

"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 - data on the shift in attitudes - but the qualitative feedback is common, and widespread."

This comes as businesses must continue to innovate. "Whichever the industry, and whether we are a small or big firm, we have to break with convention and innovate, in order to survive and grow," Mr Tharman said.

"But we will not become a truly innovative society, a place where people master skills in every job, if we lose a culture and belief in the value of perseverance, striving for our goals, and learning and improving continuously on the job."

Mr Tharman called on businesses to keep that culture by developing their staff, and empowering each staff to innovate.