Speaking at the Teochew Entrepreneur Award dinner, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shamugaratnam said that Singapore is not innovative because young people these days do not possess “old values” of perseverance. Calling young people these days as “less hungry”, Minister Tharman suggested that younger Singaporeans are leading a comfortable life because he received a lot of complaints from bosses that young people these days like to job hop and are impatient to wait to be promoted:

“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.”

Minister Tharman conveniently credited his government saying that young people are less hungry because the government has tightened the labour market, and even joked that he is not going to raise the unemployment rate to “create the hunger”. However the Minister was contented with his rationale and did not list out the real reasons why job hopping is increasingly more common today.

Unlike in the past, Singapore employers today no longer take care of employees in the same manner. Due to the influx of foreign labour, most Singapore bosses adopt a hire-and-fire attitude in human resource practices, and are reluctant to increase salaries or invest in career development for their employees. Since there is no job security and employer loyalty, employees reciprocated by leaving for greener pastures the moment an opportunity arises that dangles a promotion or a higher salary carrot.