A technical college has created a "mall" on campus to showcase its students' skills.

Named Epitome, the simulated shopping centre also provides the young people with valuable training and work experience.

Members of the public can drop in to get a haircut, buy flowers for their loved ones or just unwind at a cafe over tea and cakes.

Epitome is set inside the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) College Central at Ang Mo Kio, and offers products and services from the school's courses.

There is a floral shop, a hair salon, an eyewear shop, a games section, a cafe, a kitchen and a retail section selling items made by students.

Industry names, including Far East Flora and hairdressing brand Jean Yip, have signed up as partners.

Students working at the facility are trained by ITE lecturers and their industry partners.

Mr Bruce Poh, director and chief executive of the institute, said Epitome was created to showcase a selected range of products and services which "epitomises the very best of ITE education".

He described it as an "authentic training facility" to provide students genuine work experience.

Although Epitome has a commercial side, Mr Poh added that its business is educating, not profit-making.

"Our external partners also come into this with altruistic reasons... to help us train our students, to educate them," he said.

The facility, which started operating in April, was officially opened by Education Minister Heng Swee Keat yesterday. It is open from 11.30am to 6pm on weekdays only.

Opticianry student Jovian Nigel Brandon, 24, who worked at Epitome's eyewear shop last semester as part of his course, said the mock shopping centre lets people see how much the institute has achieved.

"The place is open to the public but is also set inside ITE; so it gives outsiders a chance to see what students at ITE do which may hopefully change their perception of ITE," he said.

Hair fashion and design student Tan Wei Han, 19, said the facility allows him to practise what he has learnt in school in a work environment. His customers are a mix of ITE staff, students and people who live in the neighbourhood.

"Here, we serve real customers, but in school, we work mainly with mannequins and hair models," he said.