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RFP Issued for Talent Supply and Industry Sector Analysis, Strategic Action Plan

By Colin McEvoy on May 8, 2017

The Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) has issued a formal request for proposals (RFP) seeking proposals for a Talent Supply and Industry Sector Analysis & Strategic Action Plan, a two-part report defining trends and shortfalls in workforce and talent supply in specific industry clusters within the Lehigh Valley.

This request stems from a study commissioned by LVEDC and the Lehigh Valley Workforce Development Board (LVWDB), which examined the pipeline for training providers and workforce supply, cataloged the region’s workforce support service providers, assessed resource efficiency, and recommended implementation strategies and best practices.

The full text of the RFP can be found below. It will be publicly advertised in The Morning Call on May 12. Proposals must arrive at LVEDC no later than 5 p.m. (EST) on June 16, 2017.

 

REQUEST FOR PROPOSAL

Talent Supply and Industry Sector Analysis

& Strategic Action Plan

Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

 

INTRODUCTION

Finding the right talent and keeping a workforce’s skills up-to-date are essential to the success of any business, and the economic vitality of the region it is located in.

The Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) and the Lehigh Valley Workforce Development Board (LVWDB) commissioned a study in 2015 which examined the pipeline for training providers and workforce supply, cataloged the region’s workforce support service providers, assessed resource efficiency, and recommended implementation strategies and best practices.  That study recommended the establishment of a strong collaborative environment with educators, institutions, and trainers in the Lehigh Valley, and the development of an ongoing process for training workforce supply and demand, using the gap analysis as an aid in developing curriculum, evaluating program effectiveness, and providing ongoing data-driver employer surveys.

Through this initiative, the LVEDC Education & Talent Supply Council was formed, aiming to increase the workforce and economic development linkages between education and business, resulting in a process that ensures the pipeline of skilled workers in the Lehigh Valley is strong and that bridging the workforce gap is a continual and ongoing process.

 In pursuit of that focus, LVEDC and the LVWDB, are seeking proposals for the preparation of a Talent Supply and Industry Sector Analysis & Strategic Action Plan which is a two-part report that defines trends and shortfalls in workforce and talent supply in specific industry clusters within the Lehigh Valley. The primary goal of this project is to develop communication and implementation strategies for the region. This “road map” will enable the region to develop new or improved economic, workforce development, and education strategies that take into consideration existing plans to establish a continuous talent pipeline within the Lehigh Valley’s targeted industry sectors to ensure the Lehigh Valley’s economy is competitive and sustainable over the next five years.

BACKGROUND

For the purposes of this analysis the following sectors have been identified by LVEDC and LVWDB as targets:

  • Bio/Life Sciences
  • Healthcare
  • Transportation/Warehousing/Logistics
  • Manufacturing – Advanced, Food & Beverage
  • Office Professional / Scientific &Technical / Business Services

 The Lehigh Valley region is two counties consisting of Lehigh and Northampton counties located in Northeast Pennsylvania.  The economic impact of the region also extends into the metropolitan statistical area which includes Carbon and Warren counties.  Lehigh Valley’s labor shed should be considered as part of the analysis and report.

SCOPE OF SERVICES

The selected vendor will be required to:

1. Conduct Research:

Labor and Talent Supply of the Region in the Identified Target Sectors

For economic developers to attract and develop quality enterprises and create jobs we must be able to demonstrate a quality, skilled workforce. This component of the study will require the selected vendor to gather data to identify the current nature of the workforce skills which includes both the labor supply and talent supply and identify shortfalls in those areas in order to attract and retain business investment in the future.  Bridging the Workforce Gap:  Lehigh Valley Workforce & Economic Development Strategy report was completed in 2015 by Oxford Economics and EMSI.  This report should be used as a starting point for this analysis. 

 The selected vendor is required to:

 Recruit engagement from identified target sector industry and education partners

  • Collect current and existing labor and talent supply data from regional economic development, workforce and educational partners.
  • Gather information to identify targeted sectors’ training needs, skill sets, certification credentials, and required education levels.
  • Determine additional labor and talent supply data needed; and, as necessary, engage industry, education, economic development and workforce development partners to collect such data. Methods of collection should include, but not be limited to, facilitating information gathering sessions, such as focus groups, visits, online surveys, etc. The selected vendor will act as the moderator and script writer for the in-person discussions.
  • Based upon data collected from all sources, perform analysis Lehigh Valley’s current and future workforce talent pipeline

Factors to be considered and evaluated include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Availability/Productivity of a trained, local workforce
  • Workforce Skills and Education Levels
  • Diversity of Employment and Career Growth Opportunities
  • Educational Opportunities at all Levels
  • Population and Workforce Diversity
  • Impact and Opportunities of Foreign Immigration
  • Government and non-profit/community support activities
  • Incumbent Worker Issues and Opportunities
  • Transportation Costs and Accessibility
  • Marketing Efforts Describing the Overall Quality of Life and the Positive Characteristics That Distinguish the Region in the larger market place
  • Drug and Alcohol issues
  • Workforce Age and Pending Retirements

 2. Produce a written report by working with an established regional leadership team in the development of such report to include the following components:

  • Provide results of data collected as it relates to current and future workforce talent pipeline
  • Identify any weaknesses in skill sets or educational opportunities available in the region and the gaps in those offerings that present barriers to the attraction, development, and retention of workers.
  • Describe the unique regional assets and training challenges the region faces in attracting and retaining a quality workforce.
  • Develop implementation strategies for our education, workforce, and talent supply partners, to fulfill talent supply needs
  • Develop the basis for a well-defined vision and a specific action plan to improve our ability to train, attract, and retain a quality workforce into the future. 
  • Identify targeted sectors with a competitive advantage and the specific strategies needed to attract and develop talent and workforce supply.
  • Develop sets of potential strategies that our education partners can subscribe to, and implement, to fulfill talent supply objectives.
  • Propose a method, and identify means for a process for a report that can be repeated annually, or more frequently.

RESOURCES

A wide array of data, reports, and resources exist creating a framework to build an analysis. LVEDC and the Lehigh Valley Workforce Development Board will provide community and partner insight and other assistance as required in support of the project, during engagement of the project.

 Examples of this high-level, and in some cases aggregate data, include:

  • Business Surveys from the WDB through their Job Gateway program
  • Industry Partnership Meeting Feedback
  • Labor Supply Data
  • Individual business outreach visits conducted through LVEDC and partner organizations
  • Educational institution data

 TIMELINES – MAJOR BENCHMARKS

  • RFP issued – On or about May 8, 2017
  • Proposals due – Close of business June 16, 2017
  • Review Committee Evaluation – Completed by June 23, 2017
  • Shortlist interviews – June 26 – July 7, 2017
  • Contract award – On or about July 14, 2017
  • Monthly reporting of project progress, by the last day of each month
  • Preliminary report with data findings – October 2017
  • Contract ends – No later than end of March 2018
  • A final report will be completed, and published for Spring of 2018

 

REPORTING/METRICS

It is expected to deliver periodic updates and progress reports, as required.  The selected vendor, along with LVEDC/LVWDB will develop a project timeline to include regular reports of progress at agreed upon intervals. These interim reports will include drafts of documents for each of the two major components for review and comment as well as an on-going dialog of the report activity. 

A total of 100 printed copies of the complete, designed report will be required of the selected vendor, as well as a hi-resolution digital copy to be used and distributed at LVEDC and LVWDB’s discretion.

GENERAL COMPLIANCE

The proposer will fully comply with the applicable requirements of the Acts through which funds are received. It will comply with applicable directives issued by the LVEDC and the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry (PDLI). The proposer assures that they will comply with other federal statues applicable to this agreement.

BIDDER QUALIFICATIONS/REQUIREMENTS

The LVEDC/LVWDB seek experienced firms or organizations to conduct workforce and economic development research as it relates to Growth Strategies – particularly economic positioning, human capital analyses, and educational recommendations. Key staff for the project is required to have individual experience in the appropriate fields. Once an award is made, the LVEDC/LVWDB project coordinators must approve any changes to key staff assigned to the project. Knowledge of the Lehigh Valley Region and experience with federal and state funding agencies is very important. 

COLLABORATIVE PROJECTS/SUBCONTRACTING

Bidders should specify in the proposal, the name and qualifications of any “subcontractor(s)” that are to be used for this project. Subcontractors will be held to the same terms and conditions as the contractor in order to meet the statement of work, method of payment, and deliverables. All subcontractors must provide to the Contractor and LVEDC/LVWDB, if requested, copies of personnel records and documentation of employee’s compliance with the contract.  

PERIOD OF PERFORMANCE:

Any contract awarded as a result of this procurement is contingent upon the continued availability of funds. The period of performance for any contract resulting from this RFP may be subject to change. Amendments extending the period of performance, if any, shall be at the sole discretion of the LVEDC/LVWDB. 

GENERAL INFORMATION FOR BIDDERS

Bidders should rely on the detailed information in the RFP, which is available at www.lehighvalley.org/ETSCRFPMay2017

Point of Contact (POC):

The POC for all components of this project is:

Name: Karianne Gelinas

Organization:  Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation

Address:  2158 Avenue C, Suite 200, Bethlehem, PA 18017

Email: KGelinas@lehighvalley.org

Phone: 610.266.2236

Any other communication will be considered unofficial and non-binding. Vendors should rely on written statements, including e-mail response and the Q & A issued by the POC. Any communication directed to parties other than the POC is not binding.  

ISSUANCE OF QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Written questions should be submitted to the POC during the open proposal period. All written questions must be submitted by email to: KGelinas@lehighvalley.org. All responses will be issued by email. Emails will be sent individually to each vendor who posed the question and will also be listed under a Q & A section on the website with the RFP.  The LVEDC/LVWDB shall be bound only by written answers.  

SUBMISSION OF PROPOSALS

Vendors are required to submit proposals electronically. Proposals must arrive at the LVEDC no later than 5:00 pm (EST) on June 16, 2017.  A total of 5 copies of the printed proposal should be sent to the POC at the address listed above.

The LVEDC/LVWDB assumes no responsibility for delays caused by delivery.  FAX proposal submissions will not be accepted.  

REVISIONS TO THE RFP

In the event it becomes necessary to revise any part of this RFP, the revision will be posted on the website with the RFP and the Q & A at www.lehighvalley.org and will be sent via email to all vendors that submit a question. For this purpose, the published questions and answers document and any other pertinent information shall be provided as an addendum to the RFP. 

PROPOSAL FORMAT

Bidders responding should respond using the format below. Each proposal should include the following sequence:  

  • Letter of Submittal (Cover Letter) – a cover letter, signed, and dated by a person authorized to legally bind the Vendor. Along with introductory remarks, the cover should include the following information about the vendor and any proposed subcontractors: 
    • Name, address, principal place of business, telephone and fax numbers, email address of legal entity or individual with whom contract would be written; 
    • Name, address, and telephone number of each principal officer; 
    • Legal status of the vendor and the year formed; 
    • Federal Employer Tax Identification Number or Social Security Number; and 
    • Location of the facility from which the vendor would operate. 
  • Summary of type and qualifications of responding organization(s), including experiences of individuals involved with the organization(s); 
  • Experience with Similar Projects; 
  • Project Understanding and Approach; 
  • Scope of Work; 
  • Schedule of Work; 
  • Team Participants and Key Personnel; 
  • References; 
  • Organizational Financial Information; 
  • Project timeline; 
  • Project Budget – should include individual fees and other costs associated with proposal. Any cost outside the proposal budget should be clearly stated; 
  • Proposals must be signed by an authorized official of the proposer’s organization agreeing to the general assurances and expressing a willingness to provide the certifications required. A contact person for follow up questions should also be identified; 
  • Identify any LVEDC employees or former LVEDC employees associated with the firm currently, or for the past three (3) years. 

RESPONSIVENESS

All proposals will be reviewed by the POC to determine compliance with administrative requirements and instructions specified in this RFP. Failure to comply with any part of the RFP may result in rejection of the proposal as non-responsive. The LVEDC/LVWDB reserves the right to accept or reject any proposal and to waive bidding irregularities at their sole discretion.  

COSTS TO PROPOSE

The LVEDC/LVWDB will not be liable for any costs incurred by the vendor in preparation of a proposal submitted in response to this RFP, conducting a presentation, or any other activities related to responding to this RFP. 

NO OBLIGATION TO CONTRACT

This solicitation does not obligate the LVEDC/LVWDB to contract for services specified herein.  

REJECTION OF PROPOSALS

The LVEDC/LVWDB reserves the right, at its’ sole discretion, to reject any and all proposals received without penalty and not to issue a contract as a result of this RFP.  

COMMITMENT OF FUNDS

No cost chargeable to the proposed contract may be incurred before the execution date specified in the contract.  

EVALUATION PROCEDURE

Responsive proposals will be evaluated in accordance with the requirements stated in this solicitation and any addenda issued. The evaluation of proposals will be accomplished by a review team. The review team, at its’ sole discretion, will select the vendor and make a recommendation to the LVEDC/LVWDB Leadership team for approval. Finalist may be contacted for an interview during the evaluation period. There is no redress process to the team’s decisions.  

EVALUATION CONSIDERATION

The evaluation team will review all proposals and will score the strength of each proposal based upon the following criteria:

  • Experience of organization with similar projects
    • Include examples of work, clients, and references
  • Project Team Structure, Staff Qualifications
  • Proposed Methodology
    • How the vendor will organize and execute the work
    • As described in project activities and deliverables
  • Overall Responsiveness to the RFP
    • How the proposal meets the RFP requirements, and
    • Not necessarily the vendor with the lowest cost
  • Budget Justification and Cost
    • Cost reasonableness and competitiveness
  • Other Considerations as they may apply

ASSURANCES

By submitting a proposal in response to this RFP, the following assurances are made:  

  1. All answers and statements made in the proposal are true and correct. 
  2. The prices and/or cost data have been determined independently, without consultation, communication, or agreement with others for the purpose of restricting competition. 
  3. It is understood that the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation/Lehigh Valley Workforce Development Board will not reimburse for any costs incurred in the preparation of this proposal.
  4. All proposals become the property of the solicitor and no proprietary rights to the ideas, writings, items, or samples are claimed, unless so stated in this proposal. 
  5. Unless required by law, the prices and/or cost data that have been submitted have not been knowingly disclosed by the Bidder and will not knowingly be disclosed prior to opening, directly or indirectly, to any other Bidder or to any competitor. 
  6. No attempt has been made or will be made by the Bidder to induce any other person or firm to submit or not to submit a proposal for the purpose of restricting competition. 

QUESTIONS RECEIVED

1. Question: How does the report that is being requested through the RFP differ from the report that was commissioned in 2015, with Oxford Economics?

Answer: The report that is outlined in the RFP is a deeper dive, involving employers as part of the conversation, so we can further identify who we are as a region for reporting and marketing both in market, and out of market. It should also include specific, strategic calls to action, based on the information gathered, that the whole region can subscribe to – educators, industry, economic developers, etc. The Oxford report was more of a data analysis of available data.

Here is a link to be able to download the Oxford study:

2. Question: Who will this report be distributed to?

Answer: To prospective businesses (both local and interested in moving to the area), economic development partners, and other parties interested in learning about the snapshot of the area’s workforce, gaps, educational and training resource providers.

3. Question: Should there be two different reports, if the report has the potential to be distributed to all of those different audiences, given that the recommended strategies need not be shared with prospective businesses?

Answer: Collectively, LVEDC and LVWDB would want one report. From that report, LVEDC and the LVWDB, and may print excerpts to fulfill specific needs or objectives, when marketing the information, such as:
1) Providing a comprehensive analysis to stakeholders/businesses in-market, or
2) Reporting out on specific data that is relevant to certain stakeholders (ie companies coming into market,) or
3) Strategic plans for our regional economic development partners

4. Question: On page 2, the RFP identifies five target sectors for the purposes of this analysis, but on page 4 the RFP asks that the report include the identification of target sectors with a competitive advantage. Is that analysis limited to the five sectors identified on p. 2?

Answer: No, not necessarily. Looking forward from a strategic perspective, we want the selected vendor to provide recommendations on the competitive advantages within the identified target sectors, as well as other sectors, and clusters that would naturally provide opportunity for our region.

5. Question: Can you please confirm whether the study area is Lehigh and Northampton Counties or the 4-county MSA?

Answer: The study area is Lehigh and Northampton Counties, but the labor shed from the
neighboring counties should be taken into consideration.

6. Question: Under project budget, you request individual fees be included. Can you clarify what you mean by “individual fees?”

Answer: Any fees associated with executing the project, including but not limited to subcontracted services, expected reimbursements, etc.

7. Question: Will an analysis of secondary data also be included to inform the strategies and if so how would a situation be handled where the selected vendor’s secondary data analysis conflicts with data analysis from the 2015 report?

Answer: We are looking for the most reliable and accurate data to date.  Secondary data may be collected to provide a general framework or foundation regarding education, workforce, and industry information.  When secondary data conflicts, we will need to ensure that we are using the most accurate and current information available.

8. Question: Page 3, Scope of Work Part 2: “Propose a method, and identify means for a process for a report that can be repeated annually, or more frequently” – Do you anticipate the report being repeated by your organization or by an external contractor?

Answer: The continued collection of data to inform planning is imperative to keep this initiative relevant and evolving.  Future data collection and strategy will be determined by access to funding to support the project. We request that the vendor be transparent with methods used in data collection to enable continuation of this initiative.

9. Question: The RFP was issued for the creation of a “Talent Supply and Industry Sector Analysis & Strategic Action Plan” – Will this final deliverable be one plan, or would you rather have the “Talent Supply and Industry Sector Analysis” be a separate report from the “Strategic Action Plan”?

Answer: This will be a single report with two parts.

10. Question: Is there a page limitation for this proposal?

Answer: There is no page limit.

11. Question: Are out of state firms encouraged to apply?

Answer: Yes.  Out of state firms may apply.

12. Question: May the electronic copy required be emailed (as opposed to flash drive)?

Answer: For receipt of the RFP proposal, while flash drive is preferable, proposals sent via email will be accepted.  LVEDC will not be held responsible for proposals not received due to any technical problems.

13. Question: There is a request to include “Organizational Financial Information”, what information or form specifically is the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation hoping to receive?

Answer: The submission of Organizational Financial Information is any publicly available financial information regarding the entity such as but not limited to an annual report.

14. Question: Do you have a budget or budget range for this project?

Answer: The maximum total budget for this project is $130,000.

15. Question:  The RFP states that proposals are due electronically by 5:00 pm on Friday.  It also states that 5 hard copies are to be provided as well.  Are those also due by 5 p.m. Friday?

Answer: Proposals are due electronically by 5 p.m. this Friday, June 16, 2017.  We will accept the 5 hard copies postmarked by June 16, 2017.

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