Business Skills Development & Support

The West Midlands is a hotbed of manufacturing, construction and engineering talent, and we’re always looking for new and creative ways to give our businesses a competitive advantage.

Having pre-qualifications, third-party accreditations or a specialist skill set are almost universally agreed to be good things. They inspire confidence in customers, may be endorsed by your industry, and are often seen as a ‘way in’ to working for major clients and contractors. The downsides are that they are time-consuming and expensive for most SMEs to achieve.

To overcome these barriers, we are planning a series of business-insight workshops to help SMEs with their contract-winning skills. We’re working with industry experts to organise them – including principal contractors, regional and national trade associations and specialist skills consultants. Themes will include pre-qualification, industry recognised accreditations, supply chain approvals and BIM (building information modelling).

To see what’s available and sign up for a workshop, visit our Events page.

Introducing WMVH Growth Spark

Embracing new smart technologies, Sandwell Council and supply chain experts Growth Spark have developed a PC, mobile and tablet-friendly app to help the region’s supply chain get fit and ready to supply major procurement projects such as the MMH (Midland Metropolitan Hospital).

What is WMVH Growth Spark?

In a nutshell, WMVH Growth Spark is a self-assessment app (integrated into the West Midlands Virtual Hospital) which asks you to answer a set of quick diagnostic questions about your business. The question set is based on Carillion’s pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ): Carillion is the preferred bidder for the MMH project and the PQQ is what they need suppliers to pass before working for them.

When you complete the question set, the app will score and summarise your answers, offering support from the WMVH Growth Speak team – including half-day training sessions – to address any areas of weakness.

Meanwhile, by gathering information about your business performance, capacity, supply capabilities, delivery performance, quality management systems, environmental credentials and much more, you’ll be able to create a first-class business improvement plan and position your business perfectly for winning work aligned to the MMH and other major projects.

WMVH Growth Spark is suitable for firms of all sizes who operate in every tier of the built environment supply chain (including clients, main contractors, subcontractors, manufacturers and health sector support services).

What happens after I’ve completed the questions and taken part in the training?

Your self-assessment will be reviewed by a member of the WMVH Growth Spark team. Once you meet all the criteria and address any gaps in your business improvement plan, your profile will be issued with a Growth Spark kite-mark and your business showcased on the West Midlands Virtual Hospital online directory as a competent, continually improving and performance-driven supplier.

Potential clients (both public and private sector buyers and category managers) can browse the WMVH supply directory and see instantly that you are a suitable prospective supplier. It reduces the risk for them in using you for the first time and helps them make an informed buying decision. This is valuable for everyone.

Growth Spark
Business Excellence Kitemark

What are the main benefits of completing the WMVH Growth Spark questions?

By completing the online self-assessment and taking part in the related training, you will:

• Put your company in a solid position for winning work, by getting a thorough overview of essential supply chain best practice

• Improve your chances in any marketplace by reviewing your company’s performance profile and addressing any weak spots

• Create your own business improvement plan to present to prospective clients and maintain a secure online performance profile

• Help potential clients (buyers) to easily evaluate your suitability to work with them

• Become a serious contender in any tendering situation, by presenting the right documents and policies every time.

How much does it cost?

Subject to availability and your business’ eligibility, use of the app and related training could be free of charge. WMVH Growth Spark’s main aim is to make it affordable for you to upskill your business and improve your tendering prospects. As a local authority, we want you to be in the best possible position for winning contracts, as this is good for our local economy.

Where will the training take place?

The half-day training sessions take place at the Carillion BIM Technologies & Skills Development Suite located in Windmill Lane, Smethwick, West Midlands B66 3LX (adjacent to the MMH development site). You will be signposted to the relevant session once you engage with the WMVH Growth Spark process.

When can I get started?

You can get started now by working your way through the online self-assessment, just follow the instructions on the app until all the question-set fields are completed, you can save your company record at any time and come back later to complete a module. The SAVE button is at the bottom.

How do I find out more?

Contact Sandwell Council’s Steve Massey on 07929 353232 or Growth Spark’s Doug Allen on 07958 133357.


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