State and local governmental public health agencies have long played a critical role in improving our nation’s health by saving lives and making communities healthier. In the 20th century, public health innovations in workplace safety, injury prevention, and other community-level improvements led to a 25-year increase in life expectancy (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2011).
New economic forces, a changing policy environment, and increasing demands to address chronic diseases coupled with significant transitions in the governmental public health workforce—cumulative job losses, significant impending turnover, and a rapidly advancing technological environment—are reshaping the role of governmental public health. To achieve continued and expanded impact on community health, the public health workforce must respond by “boldly expand[ing] the scope and reach of public health to address all factors that promote health and well-being including those related to economic development, education, transportation, food, environment, and housing” (DeSalvo et al. 2016).
The National Consortium for Public Health Workforce Development, established by the de Beaumont Foundation, convened public health leaders from more than 30 national public health membership associations, federal agencies, and public health workforce peer networks to identify areas of alignment among their priorities.
Five recommendations were identified by the Consortium to prioritize strategic skills:
– Elevate strategic skills to equal status with specialized skills.
– Invest in strategic skill development.
– Build systems, not silos.
– Develop effective and engaging training.
– Create a coordinating mechanism.