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Call for Proposal – User research for an online guide for newcomers on how colleges and institutes can fast track quality employment


The Planning for Canada program (PfC) serves immigrants pre-arrival so they can arrive better prepared to settle and find employment. We believe that Canada’s publicly funded colleges, institutes, polytechnics and cegeps are uniquely positioned to provide newcomers a fast track to quality employment, through diverse programs and courses – postgraduate certificates, diplomas, language training – that are strongly tied to industry partners and labour market needs, and which feature work placements, co-op experiences and work integrated learning opportunities. Colleges and institutes offer an array of services to support learners to succeed in their program of study (mentoring and networking opportunities, career counselling), as well as other services that support their well-being and integration into the community, like financial aid, community engagement, housing, health, mental health. Many offer tailored services to new immigrants.

We want to create a website to help newcomers who have not yet immigrated understand how colleges and institutes can provide a fast track to securing quality employment.

We are seeking an external user research consultant to undertake research activities to help us

  • understand newcomers’ needs and pain points in finding information related to their employment goals
  • provide suggestions for content areas
  • validate findings of the needs assessment research already conducted
  • provide suggestions about the design / features

This research will inform the user-facing aspect of the website we build.

Planning for Canada conducted a needs assessment in 2020, interviewing 16 people – newcomers and people who serve newcomers – to understand gaps in knowledge and find out what information should be included in the guide. The consultant should read the report and use the findings to inform their work and recommendations.

The organization’s in-house creative team consisting of branding and content experts, designers, and developers who will be responsible for the design and development of the website.


In Canada, post-secondary education is complex and confusing to newcomers. There is no national system or point of entry to understand the landscape. Instead there are 13 provincial and territorial jurisdictions, public and private options, an uncountable number of individual institutions coupled with diverse terminology for programs, services that makes it difficult to compare/understand various options.

Canada’s colleges and institutes work with industry and community organizations to train learners of all ages and backgrounds on campuses serving urban, rural, northern, and remote communities all across the country. They provide leading technical and professional postsecondary education geared to employment, and critical points of access with wraparound services to support Canada’s most vulnerable learners. At the same time, they work with local businesses and not-for-profits on applied research initiatives to drive Canadian innovation.

We want to provide a national portrait of the value and character of the publicly funded Canadian college and institute system and position the system for newcomers from countries where colleges may not be the learning institution of choice.

Scope of work

PfC is looking to retain a consultant or firm to plan and conduct user research that will aid in the design and development of a website for newcomers who have not yet arrived in Canada. The consultant will share the research findings with staff and stakeholders via documentation and artifacts as well as presentations. The consultant will manage compensation to users. Compensation is budgeted separately and should not be included in the submission.

The research should

  • Increase understanding of newcomers’ needs and pain points in finding information related to their employment goals
  • Validate/disprove/nuance/prioritize findings of the needs assessment research already conducted
  • provide suggestions for content areas
  • provide suggestions about the design / features


  • Detailed research plan
  • Screening criteria
  • Interview guide, interview script, post-interview questionnaire
  • Personas
  • Raw data (including recordings of interviews), data (analyzed)
  • Final report with recommendations for content and platform features
  • 2-page summary of findings
  • Presentation materials including slides or a visual presentation, speaking points.
  • Weekly progress reports
  • Receipts/proof of receipt of compensation

There may be a second phase of work for the researcher to facilitate co-creation sessions with users, prototyping and usability testing. This remains to be determined and is to be considered out of scope in this first phase.

Project activities and timelines

The expected activities and timelines for this project are described below. We invite applicants to propose additional features that would improve the final product. Applicants may propose changes to the activities and timelines based on their experience – any changes will need to be negotiated and confirmed with the selected consultant.

Desired project completion date: March 23, 2022

Activity to be completed: Tentative Timeline
Discovery and document review. Meet team members. Define & clarify project scope. Deliver detailed research plan, screening criteria, interview guide, script, post interview questionnaire 1-2 weeks
Screen and schedule users (francophone and anglophone) Conduct interviews with users (20) 2-3 weeks
Personas, raw data, data analyzed 1-2 weeks
Deliver final report and summary 1 weeks
Presentations to staff and stakeholders (2-3) Handoff session to web designer 1-2 days


The maximum budget for this RFP is $40, 000.


  • Experience in conducting user research in English and French
  • Ability to summarize findings in a clear and concise manner and experience making recommendations to senior leadership
  • Experience working with national membership organizations (considered an asset)

Other Requirements

  • It is expected that most work will be conducted remotely. The successful applicant is expected to be available during regular business hours Eastern Standard Time. User interviews may be conducted outside regular business hours.

How to submit

Applicants should demonstrate their understanding of the requirements contained in the Scope of Work and explain how they will meet these requirements. Applicants should also demonstrate their expertise and describe their approach in a thorough, concise, and clear manner.

Please submit:

  1. Project plan: The project plan must demonstrate:
    • An understanding of the project requirements
    • The ability to carry out the project and satisfy requirements
    • A high level research plan for the project, including timelines, milestones, and deliverables
    • The processes that you/your team will employ to address matters related to client satisfaction, quality assurance
  2. Consultant’s qualification and experience:
    • Name of consultant and any team members, including background and relevant experience
    • Project references (minimum of two), including project role, name, email address and telephone number for each reference.
  3. Proposal costing
    • Budget must include professional service costs, any and all costs of materials required to complete the tasks, and any other cost (taxes excluded).
    • This is a fixed cost engagement.

No payment direct or indirect will be made for costs that may be incurred relative to the preparation or submission of a proposal in response to this RFP.

Proposals should be submitted to:
Carol Dolbel, Manager, Planning for Canada, Colleges and Institutes Canada.

Deadline: 12:00 p.m. (noon) EST Tuesday, January 25, 2022. Please put “User Research proposal” in the subject line.

Evaluation Criteria

The evaluation will be guided by the consultants’ experience, samples of past deliverables (sanitized), research portfolio, ability to meet deadlines, and price/value-for-money.


Inquiries and questions regarding this RFP must be submitted via email to Carol Dolbel,

About Us

Planning for Canada (PfC) is a program funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and implemented by Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan). Planning for Canada provides prospective Economic Class (federal and provincial skilled workers) and Family Class (sponsored relatives and dependents) immigrants with information covering all aspects of living and working in Canada. Services are provided world-wide in English and French, via synchronous and asynchronous means.

Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) is the voice of Canada’s publicly supported colleges, institutes, cegeps and polytechnics, and an international leader in education for employment with ongoing programs in over 25 countries. CICan’s members add over $190B to Canada’s economy each year and contribute to inclusive economic growth by working with industry and community partners to offer more than 10,000 programs to learners in urban, rural, remote, and northern communities. Over 95% of Canadians (and 86% of Indigenous people) live within 50km of one of our members.