RCBI, EDA and Appalachian Power team to identify workforce skills in state

Dec. 16, 2019

Marshall University’s Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI) in partnership with the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) and Appalachian Power will undertake a comprehensive analysis of the skills and abilities of workers in 23 West Virginia counties as part of a broader effort to help diversify the state’s economy.


Student finalists to vie for state agriculture championship

Students from Barbour, Clay, Marshall and Upshur counties have been named finalists in the fifth annual West Virginia Agriculture Technology & Innovation Student Competition sponsored by the Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI) at Marshall University and a group of statewide partners. The students placed first in each of six categories and will received $100 prizes.


Request for Proposals: Regional Workforce Analysis

The Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI), West Virginia’s Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center, is seeking proposals from qualified bidders to perform an analysis on the workforce skills gap and its solutions for a 23-county region of West Virginia. The counties are Boone, Cabell, Clay, Fayette, Greenbrier, Jackson, Kanawha, Lincoln, Logan, Marshall, Mason, McDowell, Mercer, Mingo, Monroe, Nicholas, Ohio, Putnam, Raleigh, Roane, Summers, Wayne, and Wyoming.


The mission of the Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI) is to deliver innovative solutions with leading edge technology to advance manufacturing and entrepreneurship. RCBI encourages job creation, economic development, innovation, and entrepreneurship by supporting individuals and manufacturers of all sizes. It recognizes that manufacturers need access to resources and start-up funds to compete in a global marketplace and provides state-of-the-art resources to clients in West Virginia and beyond. RCBI’s major strategies to support its mission include the following: a) business outreach to manufacturers and entrepreneurs to ascertain needs; b) offering equipment for lease to make advanced manufacturing easily accessible and affordable; c) product prototyping assistance through the use of design software and 3D printing; d) quality services to help ensure that clients remain effective, sought-after, and environmentally conscious suppliers; e) workforce training that includes apprenticeships, customized training, and programs in machining, welding, additive manufacturing, and robotics; f) STEM initiatives to both encourage youth to seek local STEM careers and assist adults in product development; and g) industry-specific assistance, particularly in the fields of agriculture and aerospace.

Scope of Work


A workforce assessment for West Virginia must explore both skills gaps that exist, as well as skills transferability opportunities in key sectors that have declined significantly over the past decade. To accomplish this, contractor should conduct a workforce analysis designed to determine the labor market areas for the region; identify and quantify workforce availability both statewide and within the region; determine skills attainment and qualifications of the existing workforce; review trends and patterns of the statewide and regional workforce; and develop data to share with business prospects considering a location in the state.

Project Launch. To begin research, contractor should conduct a project launch meeting designed to build consensus around the overall project direction – finalizing the project timeline, identifying milestones to be met, defining communications processes for the project, and delineating project deliverables.

Stakeholder Engagement. Input from employers, economic development partners, educators, students, and the workforce at all levels should be sought so as to fully understand the skills of the state’s unemployed and underemployed workers. Conversations allow the contractor to explore the breadth of skills workers currently possess and those that might best be enhanced and transitioned to other sectors and occupations that show opportunities for growth in the region. Contractor should compile the findings gathered and observed during the stakeholder engagement process and present those to the project leadership team, as well as provide a summarized report of the insight from all stakeholders.

Quantitative Research. Various data points related to demographics, occupation projections, education completers, industry staffing patterns, and commuting patterns for the regions should be examined as part of this process.

Qualitative Research. Additional research should focus on a review of available training programs and how they correspond to the needs of the region’s employers. This analysis should explore types of programs, capacity, and completers and how those match up with anticipated occupational demand. Additionally, any training needed to enhance the identified transferable skills of the existing workforce should be considered in reviewing available education and training programs.

Skills Gaps. With comprehensive stakeholder engagement, data mining, and research, the contractor should be able to identify and quantify real or potential skills gaps in key industry sectors, while also identifying opportunities for skills transferability related to struggling sectors.

Recommendation Development

Recommendations. Following completion of all qualitative and quantitative research, contractor should conduct a thorough analysis of the data collected to identify important trends related to assets and challenges of the existing workforce, available training opportunities, and future trends that will impact the quality and quantity of the region’s workforce.

This in-depth analysis should inform strategic recommendations for enhancing the area’s workforce assets and better preparing workers to meet the challenges of the future. The recommendations should focus on opportunities for skills adjustment and upgrades to maximize the existing skill sets of the workforce and prepare them to meet the future talent demands of the region’s growth sectors. Additionally, specific training recommendations should be addressed to ensure that all available resources are deployed in the most effective and efficient way to enhance the region’s competitive workforce position.

Project Delivery

The workforce analysis and recommendations should encompass information that has been gathered and analyzed throughout the process and should address these key issues:

  • The key demographic and skill assets and liabilities of the current workforce relative to today’s business needs, as well as anticipated future demand.
  • A transferable skills assessment and compatible occupations identification for the underemployed and unemployed workforce.
  • Regional education and training institution program offerings relative to supplying an ongoing pipeline of talent sufficient to satisfy employers’ needs and maximize transferable skill sets.


  • An executive summary of all research and related findings.
  • Survey summaries and statistical data used in the study.
  • Analysis of the workforce data as it relates to key business sectors for the region.
  • A review of existing workforce training opportunities and programs.
  • Specific and detailed recommendations to enhance the existing workforce to foster future job opportunities.
  • Presentation of the findings to key stakeholder


The following criteria, based on a 100-point total scale, will be used to evaluate the proposals received:

  • Total cost  (25 percent),
  • General approach and plans (20 percent),
  • Qualifications and experience of personnel involved (20 percent),
  • Past performance on projects of similar scope and size (20 percent), and
  • Overall ability to successfully complete the project within the proposed schedule (15 percent).

RCBI reserves the right to reject any or all bids received in response to this proposal.

Minimum Acceptable Score: Vendors must score a minimum of 70 percent of the total technical points possible.    All Vendors not attaining the minimum acceptable score (MAS) shall be disqualified and removed from further consideration. RCBI may select the successful Vendor’s proposal based on best value purchasing which is not necessarily the lowest price submitted by a Vendor. Cost is considered but is not the sole determining factor for award. RCBI does reserve the right to accept or reject any or all of the proposals, in whole or in part. Vendor’s failure to provide complete and accurate information may be considered grounds for disqualification. RCBI reserves the right to ask Vendors for additional information to clarify their proposals. Nothing may be added to alter the written solution or method contained in the original proposal after the bid opening.


Vendor’s Proposal Format:  This part of the bid outlines the format the Vendor must follow in arranging information within Vendor proposal.

  1. Title Page – Should state the name of the Vendor, Vendor’s business address, telephone number, email address, name of authorized contact person to speak on behalf of the Vendor, dated and signed.
  1. Table of Contents – Clearly identify the material by Section Title as follows:
  1. Section I:  Planned Management Staffing – Personnel/Experience, Location of Vendor Headquarters, nearest office and managing office for the project.
  1. Section II:  Methodology – Approach to meet Bid Objectives. Detailed plans on how to meet the needs of the RFP. Proposed time schedule to complete project.
  1. Section III:  Past Performance on projects of similar size and scope with references. Client information should include: institution name, contact name, address, telephone, size of institution, and brief description of services performed.
  1. Section IV:  Cost – Provide cost information for the proposal.


One electronic copy of responses to this solicitation should be emailed to the following individuals by the submission deadline:

Niki Rowe-Fortner – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Sheila Harmon – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The subject line of the email should read: “WF Analysis_December 2, 2019”

Vendors submitting proposals should allow sufficient time for delivery to ensure their timely arrival. RCBI can neither waive nor excuse late receipt of a proposal that is delayed and late for any reason.   Any proposal received after the submission deadline will be immediately disqualified in accordance with State law and the administrative rules and regulations.


Release of the RFP:                                                     November 20, 2019

Deadline for Vendor’s Written Questions:                      December 2, 2019, 5 p.m. EST

Addendum /Response to Vendor Questions:                  December 6, 2019

Submission Deadline:                                                  December 11, 2019, 5 p.m. EST


Addendum: Vendor Questions & Responses

What is the maximum budget for this project?
We are not establishing budget minimums or maximums.

Is the primary focus working with manufacturers to find out their hiring needs are and the skills and abilities needed in their companies or is the focus on the what the current skill level of underemployed or unemployed in those counties? 
The current skill level of underemployed or unemployed in those counties.

What will be the timeline for launch and completion of the project?
We endeavor to select a contractor by December 20 and have work begin shortly into the new year (2020). We anticipate a 6-9 month timeframe for completion of the project.

Has RCBI or the state of West Virginia ever conducted any workforce skills gap or skills transferability opportunity research in West Virginia or the 23-county region? If so please, could RCBI please provide a copy of the reports, questionnaires, executive summaries, etc., any documentation that goes with previous research studies conducted.
To our knowledge, no.

What are the key sectors in the 23-county region?
We would classify them as mining, wood & paper, chemicals & plastics, metals & machinery, and transportation. Others may be identified in the analysis.

Define what is meant by skills transferability opportunities in key sectors?
We define this as other industries that individuals’ existing skills can be used in.

What specific skills or skill sets will this research effort focus upon?
That is to be determined by the analysis.

In regards to stakeholders (employers, economic development partners, educators, students) will RCBI provide lists (or sample) for each? Or will contractor be required to provide?
RCBI will provide.

What workforce and/or employer training programs are currently available in the 23-county region?
That is to be determined by the analysis.

The methodology says the contractor should “identify and quantify workforce availability both statewide and within the region.” Should the workforce part of the research effort be conducted in the 23-county region? Or statewide?
The 23-county region.

For the Quantitative Research section, will all of the data points (demographics, occupation projections, education completers, industry staffing patterns and commuting patterns) listed in this section be provided by RCBI? Or is all or part to be gathered and compiled by the contractor?
This must be compiled by the contractor.

Is there a page limit on the proposal submissions?

For the cost proposal, do you want a detailed budget? Or just one figure, an all-inclusive budget?
A detailed budget is preferred.

Do both the demand and supply sides both need to be examined or just the demand side?

As the 23 counties listed in the RFP are not one contiguous geography should the analysis define sub-regions with similar economies? At a minimum, will Ohio and Marshall counties be one sub-region?
Sub-regions may be used if the contractor believes this will enhance the analysis, but it is not required.

Under Qualitative Research, is the review of training programs to be limited to the industries identified as having skills gaps?
It would include industries to which skills can be transferred.

Is a survey approach preferred over purchasing third-party data?
Either or both is acceptable.

Is there a targeted number of respondents (data points) per county? In other words, are statistically significant outcomes required for each county?
Statistical significance is preferred but not required.


One southern WV resident to receive full machinist scholarship

One student from McDowell, Mercer, Summers or Wyoming County will be awarded a full scholarship to earn an associate degree through the nationally recognized machinist training program offered by RCBI and Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College. To be eligible, students must apply for the Bowen Foundation scholarship by May 22, 2020.


RCBI expands additive manufacturing technology

Additive manufacturers and innovators will soon have access to two new state-of-the-art 3D printers to turn their innovations into reality.


RCBI celebrating National Apprenticeship Week with lunch & learns

The Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI) is celebrating National Apprenticeship Week by hosting three free Lunch & Learns to highlight the benefits of apprenticeship.


New helicopter manufactured in West Virginia now commercially available

A new helicopter resulting from a collaboration between Carbon Fiber Composites, Safari Helicopters, and the Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI) at Marshall University is now commercially available and has made its first sales.


Clay students capture top award at annual WV Makes Festival

Clay County Middle School students Madison Paxton & Dillon McCumbers captured top honors in the youth design challenge during the West Virginia Makes Festival Oct. 4 at Marshall University in Huntington.


Marshall University’s RCBI partners with new WV aerospace company

Marshall University’s Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI) is partnering with Novus Aero Development, a newly created West Virginia technology company, to manufacturer a concept aircraft and aerospace components that will enhance the safety and affordability of the general aviation market.


Second craft beverage summit on tap for Oct. 23 in Fairmont

To maintain momentum in the emerging craft-beverage economy – including the production of sodas, teas, beers, wines and spirits – the Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI) and the West Virginia Food and Farm Coalition will present the second “Craft: A Farm-to-Bottle Summit” Oct. 23 in Fairmont.