On Friday 11 December, MP for West Bromwich East and deputy leader for the Labour Party, Tom Watson officially opened a special training suite to help West Midlands businesses get to grips with an emerging technology.

The BIM (Building Information Modelling) training suite is located at the Sandwell Business Solutions Centre, CAP Centre in Windmill Lane, Smethwick (adjacent to the new £430m Midland Metropolitan Hospital Development).

BIM is a universal means for sharing digital-engineered designs and data between clients and suppliers. From April 2016 all public-sector capital-build projects must comply with BIM Level 2, so it is vital that SMEs are confident in using it.

To help SMEs adopt BIM and remain competitive in the construction and engineering sectors, Sandwell Council has opened the 12-workstation facility with sponsorship support from local businesses including West Midlands headquartered construction giant Carillion; Metsec, one of the region’s most successful cold roll-forming firms; ICI AkzoNobel Paints, a global powder coatings manufacturer and; Ascom Wireless Solutions, the UK’s leading wireless communications provider.

The facility features BIM viewing software, online and social learning platforms, consultancy and affordable vocational training in CAD skills, 3D modelling, engineering design services, product design and BIM object creation. It is a first for a UK local authority.