State Health Agency and Local Health Department Workforce: Identifying Top Development Needs

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Abstract

Objectives

To identify occupations with high-priority workforce development needs at public health departments in the United States.

Methods

We surveyed 46 state health agencies (SHAs) and 112 local health departments (LHDs). We asked respondents to prioritize workforce needs for 29 occupations and identify whether more positions, more qualified candidates, more competitive salaries for recruitment or retention, or new or different staff skills were needed.

Results

Forty-one SHAs (89%) and 36 LHDs (32%) participated. The SHAs reported having high-priority workforce needs for epidemiologists and laboratory workers; LHDs for disease intervention specialists, nurses, and administrative support, management, and leadership positions. Overall, the most frequently reported SHA workforce needs were more qualified candidates and more competitive salaries. The LHDs most frequently reported a need for more positions across occupations and more competitive salaries. Workforce priorities for respondents included strengthening epidemiology workforce capacity, adding administrative positions, and improving compensation to recruit and retain qualified employees.

Conclusions

Strategies for addressing workforce development concerns of health agencies include providing additional training and workforce development resources, and identifying best practices for recruitment and retention of qualified candidates.

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