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RFP: Talent Supply and Industry Sector Analysis and Strategic Action Plan Review and Validation

By Colin McEvoy on January 27, 2020

Request for Proposal 

Talent Supply and Industry Sector Analysis and Strategic Action Plan Review and Validation 

Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania 

INTRODUCTION

Talent has become the primary factor in attracting and retaining business. Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) is a non-profit organization that markets the economic assets of Lehigh and Northampton counties in eastern Pennsylvania. The Workforce Board Lehigh Valley (WBLV) is a non-profit workforce development system whose mission is to ensure an employer demand-driven world class workforce system aligned with economic development, education and the community focusing on targeted industry clusters.  Both LVEDC and WBLV direct strategic collaborative efforts involving various stakeholders in the regional economy to attract and retain talent, promote skills training and career readiness, and align employers and educators to meet the region’s talent supply needs.

LVEDC and WBLV commissioned a study in 2015 that examined the pipeline for training providers and workforce supply, cataloged the region’s workforce support service providers, assessed resource efficiency, and recommended implementation strategies based on best practices.  As a result of that study, LVEDC and WBLV established an Education & Talent Supply Council to strengthen existing collaborations between education and business. The council is focused on maintaining a strong pipeline of skilled workers, using gap analyses to support curriculum and training development, and conducting data-driven research of the Lehigh Valley talent market.

In 2017 LVEDC and WBLV directed a second talent-market study called “Talent Supply and Industry Sector Analysis & Strategic Action Plan,” which defined trends and shortfalls in workforce and talent supply in specific industry clusters within the Lehigh Valley. This “road map” enabled the region to develop new and improved economic, workforce development, and education strategies. These new strategies complemented existing plans to ensure that people can develop the skills they need to meet regional employer needs and that the region can fill skills gaps by attracting talent from outside the Lehigh Valley. The Lehigh Valley is implementing these strategies.

The research that informed the “Talent Supply and Industry Sector Analysis & Strategic Action Plan” was conducted two years ago. LVEDC and WBLV now seek to update the research, reassess employers’ talent needs, and validate the strategic approaches that the region is using to address the most important talent-supply issues.

As provided in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) sec. 107(d), the Local Workforce Development Board must: conduct workforce research and regional labor market analysis to include analyses and regular updates of economic conditions, needed knowledge and skills, workforce, and workforce development (including education and training) activities to include an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses (including the capacity to provide) of such services to address the identified education and skill needs of the workforce and the employment needs of employers.

This new study will involve an in-depth targeted multi-sector survey of Lehigh Valley employers and a reanalysis of strategic initiatives.

BACKGROUND

The Lehigh Valley consists of Lehigh and Northampton counties located in eastern Pennsylvania, 60 miles north of Philadelphia and 90 miles west of New York City.  The region is part of the Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton Metropolitan Statistical Area that includes Carbon County (PA) and Warren County (NJ). 

For the purposes of this analysis the following customized industry sectors have been identified and will be provided by LVEDC as targets based on current employment levels, projected employment growth, or industry clusters that are likely to be attracted to Lehigh Valley:

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

SCOPE OF SERVICES

The scope of work for this project includes, but is not limited to, the following items:

1. Conduct in-depth research into the regional talent supply market including the needs and perceptions of employers and output of educational institutions.

The selected vendor will:

  • Review and analyze current and historical labor and talent supply data from regional economic development, workforce and educational partners.
  • Survey employers in target sector industries to understand current and projected talent needs. Survey process should include a limited number of focus groups with employers and other talent-impacting organizations to validate data.
  • Based upon data collected from all sources, analyze Lehigh Valley’s current and future workforce talent pipeline.

 The survey should include an evaluation of factors related to the talent market including:

  • Workforce preparedness
  • Access to educational and training opportunities
  • Workforce diversity
  • Commuting patterns within the labor shed
  • Impediments to talent attraction and retention

 2. Produce a written report that includes the following components:

  • A top-level summary of all findings and recommendations
  • Data related to current and future talent pipeline
  • Deficiencies in the talent market or community that present barriers to attraction, development, and retention of workers
  • Suggested strategies to fulfill talent supply needs
  • A review and analysis of the effectiveness of existing strategic actions

RESOURCES  

A wide array of data, reports, and resources exists as a starting point for this analysis. LVEDC 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 data, include:

  • Industry feedback
  • Labor supply data
  • Individual business outreach visits conducted through LVEDC, WBLV, and partner organizations
  • Educational institution data
  • NAICS codes from LVEDC’s customized target sectors

TIMELINES – MAJOR BENCHMARKS  

  • RFP issued – On or about March 6, 2020
  • Questions due – Close of business March 25, 2020 (Answers will be posted publicly on March 27, 2020)
  • Proposals due – Close of business April 6, 2020
  • Contract award – April/May 2020
  • Project start – May 2020
  • Project completion – September 2020
  • Monthly progress reports due by the last day of each month

REPORTING/METRICS

The successful bidder will be expected to deliver monthly progress reports, as required, and produce a project timeline, in conjunction with LVEDC and WBLV, that includes a minimum of two interim written project updates. These progress 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. 

GENERAL COMPLIANCE

The Bidder and each subcontractor shall establish and maintain a written sexual harassment policy and shall inform their employees of the policy. The policy must contain a notice that sexual harassment will not be tolerated and employees who practice it will be disciplined.   The Bidder and each subcontractor must certify that it is compliant with state and federal Drug Free Workplace Act requirements.

The Bidder and each subcontractor shall not discriminate by reason of gender, race, creed, or color against any subcontractor or supplier who is qualified to perform the work to which the contract relates.

BIDDER QUALIFICATIONS/REQUIREMENTS

LVEDC and WBLV 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, LVEDC and WBLV project coordinators must approve any changes to key staff assigned to the project. Knowledge of the Lehigh Valley region is 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 and WBLV, 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 LVED and WBLV.

GENERAL INFORMATION FOR BIDDERS  

Bidders should rely on the detailed information in the RFP, which is available at 

https://lehighvalley.org/talent-study-2020/

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: [email protected]

Phone: 610.266.2236

Any other communication will be considered unofficial and non-binding. Vendors should rely on written statements, including email 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:  [email protected]. 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 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 April 6, 2020.  A total of 5 copies of the printed proposal should be sent to the POC at the address listed above.

The LVEDC 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. LVEDC reserves the right to accept or reject any proposal and to waive bidding irregularities at their sole discretion.  

COSTS TO PROPOSE  

LVEDC 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 LVEDC to contract for services specified herein.  

REJECTION OF PROPOSALS  

LVEDC 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 developed by LVEDC and WBLV. The review team, at its sole discretion, will select the vendor and make a recommendation to the LVEDC and WBLV Leadership team for approval. Finalists 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 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. 

Q&A SECTION

Q: Is LVEDC willing to work with a firm that uses a data platform other than Chmura/JobsEQ, which LVEDC traditionally uses?

A: While LVEDC does and will continue to use Chmura/JobsEQ as a data platform, we do not foresee a concern working with a firm that uses a different platform for this study.


Q: Can you provide information on any specifications and/or documents associated with this project?

A: Some documents and data relevant to our region and to the Talent Study 2020 are the 2019 Lehigh Valley Quick Facts sheet, 2018 Education and Talent Supply study, and Lehigh Valley Hot Careers guide.


Q:

The RFP mentions two previous studies. Are these available for review?

A: Those two studies are linked below.

  • LVEDC and WBLV commissioned a study in 2015 that examined the pipeline for training providers and workforce supply, cataloged the region’s workforce support service providers, assessed resource efficiency, and recommended implementation strategies based on best practices.
  • In 2017, LVEDC and WBLV directed a second talent-market study called “Talent Supply and Industry Sector Analysis & Strategic Action Plan.”

Q: Is there a defined budget or budget range for this study?

A: We are currently not disclosing the budget for this study.


Q: Are you will still be receiving and deciding on proposals for the RFP: Talent Supply and Industry Sector Analysis and Strategic Action Plan Review and Validation?  Do you still anticipate moving forward with this project?  Is the timeline still the same?

A: We are currently receiving and deciding on proposals for the RFP: Talent Supply and Industry Sector Analysis and Strategic Action Plan Review and Validation.  While we still plan to move forward with this project, the timeline for the work may need to be adjusted due to COVID-19.  We are monitoring our region and business community closely as the situation develops.


Q: In light of the coronavirus situation, has there been any change in scope to this project?

A: We have not altered the scope of project.  We are monitoring our region and business community closely as the situation develops.


Q: Can you please confirm your offices will be open and able to accept packages for the 5 paper copies due April 6? Or, will the rule be adjusted to allow electronic pdf submittals only?

A: While we are still receiving mail, it is unnecessary for firms to send copies via mail at this time due to current circumstances. You are welcome to exclusively submit electronic pdf proposals via email.


Q: The Proposal Format requests “Organizational Financial Information.” Can you please list the specific financial information required for submission?

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


Q: A table of contents is not listed in the Proposal Format. Is it acceptable to include a table of contents?

A: Yes, it is acceptable to include a table of contents.

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