A NEW scholarship programme will groom leaders to meet future demands in the retail industry.

A collaboration between the Singapore Retailers Association (SRA) and MasterCard, it will award seven scholarships in two diploma courses in retail management.

The first is a year-long course conducted by The Retail Academy of Singapore for people currently working in the retail industry.

The other is a three-year programme by Temasek Polytechnic, and the scholarship will be awarded to second-year students.

The scholarships are worth $35,000 in total.

SRA and MasterCard did not specify the criteria for the awards.

Since 2000, SRA has been involved in giving out nearly 100 retail scholarships, such as the National Retail Scholarship, which funds tertiary courses from diplomas to undergraduate and postgraduate degrees for people who want a career in retail.

In a press release, SRA and MasterCard noted that Singapore will add about 2.4 million sq ft of space in shopping malls in the coming years.

SRA executive director Lau Chuen Wei estimates about 7,200 more workers are needed in the retail sector by 2015. In 2010, it employed 120,600 people.

Dr Jannie Chan, president of the SRA, said that it was challenging to find the right people for the retail industry.

She added: "So when they do and they show potential for bigger things, we should nurture them and give them the opportunities to develop further."

Applications for the scholarships are now open and interested parties can call the SRA on 6295-2622 to find out more.