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GOH remarks at Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2018 Awards Gala

Mrs Josephine Teo, Minister for Manpower, The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore


Distinguished Guests,

Ladies & Gentlemen

  1. Good Evening. Thank you for inviting me to join you for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2018 Awards Gala.
  2. My heartiest congratulations to all award winners.
  3. Your awards reflect your outstanding achievements as entrepreneurs. Thriving in the fast-evolving business landscape by embracing transformation and driving innovation – which is the theme for this year’s award.
  4. I started my work life in EDB, supporting local enterprises. At that time, the entrepreneurial scene was not as vibrant. 
  5. Young talents considered careers in MNCs to be far more attractive.
  6. Few young graduates would cite entrepreneurship as their ambition. Even those whose families were business owners would have shied away.
  7. Fast forward 30 years, there has been a sea change.
  8. Entrepreneurship has become more attractive and accessible, and increasingly recognised as a viable career option.
  9. A global entrepreneur survey1 conducted in 2016 found that 74% of Singaporeans aged 18 to 30 years old intend to either start their own business or become self-employed in the next 10 years.
  10. I am very encouraged by this development.
  11. In the last 3 years, an average of 64,000 new business entities were set up.
  12. These businesses started even as employment rates have increased and unemployment rates remained low. Which means people were not turning to entrepreneurship because they had no other options. Although it is competitive, there are still opportunities. Being part of a growing region has also helped.
  13. MOM supports businesses by keeping our labour markets flexible.
  14.  We also strike a careful balance between improving employee protection and imposing employer obligations.

  15. After all, if we look at our workforce in the private sector, about one-third were employed in entities started in the last 10 years.

  16. The potential for job creation by new businesses is quite evident.

  17. Besides new businesses, there are also those that have been here for generations.

  18. More and more, we see leadership renewal where second and sometimes third generation business owners step up to steer the companies forward.They are benefiting from better access to mentorship and networking opportunities these days such as tonight’s event. From encounters I have had with them, I feel hopeful.

  19. Whether first, second or third generation, building up your business in a growing region, a growing Singapore is a plus. But I have just one suggestion.  You are more likely to succeed if you start with a clear understanding of the manpower situation in Singapore — well-educated workforce with higher aspirations and many options available to them. This means having a human capital strategy right from the start.

  20. How the business model can be lean? How the job can be made more meaningful? And how the workplace can be progressive and offers opportunities for advancement?

  21. Congratulations once again to the award winners tonight. One of you will go on to represent Singapore in EY World Entrepreneur award. I wish him the very best.

  22. Thank you once again for inviting me. I look forward to the award presentation ceremony and wish you all a pleasant evening.



  1. Source: The Entrepreneur Era, Global Entrepreneur Survey 2016, conducted by GoDaddy and Morar Consulting.