Autodesk Inc. has reached an agreement that will give apprentices at Sheet Metal Workers union training centers the ability to use company’s construction software at a substantial savings to the schools.

Instead of the typical $4,500 for a license per program, 153 schools will pay $1,000 each for up to 25 licenses for titles such as Navisworks, Revit and AutoCAD.

Programs such as AutoCAD are regularly used by students to design HVAC systems in 3-D.

Officials said each school could save more than $1 million thanks to the agreement, which was negotiated by Michael Keane, director of building information modeling technologies with the International Training Institute, which oversees the union’s educational programs.

“I think they’re (Autodesk) in a great situation with us,” Keane said. “It awoke them to what we’re doing and how serious we are about the industry.”

Keith Dias, training director at California’s Sheet Metal Workers Local 104’s training centers in San Francisco, San Mateo and North Bay counties, was eager to see the agreement put in place. He estimates each of the schools he supervises will save $8,000 to $10,000 annually.

 “That’s $25,000 to $30,000 we’ll be able to save, and we will be able to upgrade the software every year,” Dias said. “We have to be able to train with the latest and greatest software. If we weren’t, we’d be falling behind on the job site and in training. Now that we’ll get (the software) for $1,000 (per seat/license), it’s huge. I have brand new computers to load it on, and I have members calling to want to train here. So we’re ready to go.”