Learning World with its bright orange walls and royal blue furniture could easily be mistaken for the plush training centre of a blue- chip company, writes Estelle Maxwell.
The Pounds 200,000 complex, sited in the shadow of Europe's largest indoor shopping centre, is a Gateshead College venture.
The college joined Sunderland University in the pioneering scheme for post-16 education. It is running and selling a range of courses including French, information technology and training in counselling to shoppers, families, employers and workers.
Learning World's staff are marketing the services of the centre based on Gateshead's Metro Retail Park. The team, which contacted 2,000 companies, has had 400 enrol since it opened last month.
Chris Hughes, principal of Gateshead College, said: "We had a modest business plan for the first eight months and it is running slightly ahead of it already."
Gateshead College launched its first satellite centre two years ago in a building formerly occupied by sportswear giants Nike. It recruited thousands of students under the noses of neighbouring FE colleges in Sunderland.
Learning World has proved popular with companies who want to run their own training programmes on the site. ASDA, Swallow Hotels and Tyne and Wear Fire Brigade have signed up.