Temasek Polytechnic's retail management students will soon be able to learn from lectures by Ikea staff and also do work stints with the furnishings retail giant.

This, after the two parties signed a memorandum of understanding yesterday.

Said Ms Jing Li, deputy store manager at Ikea Tampines: "This partnership will elevate Singapore's retail industry by building much-needed skills and giving students an inside look at one of the world's most successful retail operations."

Mr Daniel Yeow, director of the school of business at Temasek Polytechnic (TP), said: "Every day many Singaporeans look at Ikea (products), wake up to Ikea (products), sleep on Ikea (products)... Ikea is an institution and we are proud to have a collaboration with it."

Under the partnership, Ikea's management team will deliver lectures at TP. There will also be in-store lessons for second-year students, while third-year students will get a chance to work on a real-world business challenge from within the store. The top five to 10 students will have an opportunity to intern at Ikea, where they will spend their first seven weeks in the sales department, before spending three weeks in a retail business department of their choice. The internship wraps up with a two-week project.

Ikea will also present the Ikea Innovation Award to the third-year student with the highest cumulative grade point average over three years in selected modules.

This year, the award, which consists of Ikea furnishings worth $1,500 as well as a complimentary space planning consultation, was presented to Ms Cheong Say En. The 21-year-old said: "I'm very excited and thankful... I've been living in the same room for 20 years, and now I have the chance to revamp it."

Mr Yeow stressed the importance of the retail sector in Singapore, saying: "Singapore is the second hottest city in the world in terms of attracting new retailers."

Mr Lee Chuan Jie, 21, a second-year student from TP's retail management course, said: "I hope to learn more about furnishing retail, which requires a higher level of service as compared to other sectors."

Mr Samuel Tan, course manager for retail management at TP's school of business, said he hoped the course would show that retail is "more than just folding clothes and selling things - it is very professional, very exciting."