SINGAPORE - Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP) graduate Shermin Shu hopes to realise her goal to build a fashion brand for plus-sized women by studying and working simultaneously under a new programme.

Said Ms Shu, a 21-year-old NYP visual communication graduate: "After studying in NYP for three years, I realised that design is not just about the looks. I want to learn about a good design that the market would buy (into)."

Ms Shu is one of the 34 participants in the two programmes, which were officially launched on Thursday (May 19) by NYP and the Work Development Agency (WDA).

The programmes are SkillsFuture Earn and Learn Programmes for the design sector - one for visual communication and another for spatial design.

They are offered to all five polytechnics in Singapore. Trainees will undergo a structured year-long work-study programme integrating classroom learning and on-the-job training.

The two programmes are part of the nation's SkillsFuture movement to better train workers, and aim to improve the career prospects of polytechnic and technical institute's students.

Some 25 companies are involved in the new programmes, ranging from small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to multinational corporations (MNCs), in areas like interior design and advertising.

For Ms Shu, she will be working at events company MLA Special Events under the programme for visual communication.

Ms Debra Spykerman, 54, associate director at MLA Special Events, said that Ms Shu would be able to directly apply what she learnt in school to her work, noting that she will attend lectures on Monday, and work from Tuesday to Friday.

Other graduates like Ms Trudy Gold Lukam believe that the new work-study programmes will help prepare her for the working world.

"I believe that this programme will help test myself mentally and financially," said the 22-year-old visual communication graduate from NYP.

Ms Low Yen Ling, Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Trade and Industry, highlighted the importance of developing local talent in the design industry at Thursday's launch.

"We need to create a variety of pathways to deepen the skillsets of our design workforce and build up relevant work competencies in order to meet the demands and challenges of the future economy," said Ms Low.

The new programmes will help develop a pipeline of multi-disciplinary, industry-ready designers for the sector, added Ms Low.

Said Mr Ben Sng, 38, general manager of talent management SME, ADFT, one the 25 firms involved in the programmes: "For small SMEs, we have little time and resources. The programme helps to groom staff before entering the company."