Public Health Workforce Development and Diversity

The public health workforce plays an essential role in securing the vital conditions for health and well-being for all to thrive. A skilled, resourced, and robust public health workforce is needed to meet the demands of public health today and prepare for the needs of tomorrow. A diverse public health workforce is better equipped to address the needs of the most impacted and marginalized, and implement population health strategies. COVID-19 has shed light on challenges facing the public health workforce, while also exacerbating them. The COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized the need to skill up the workforce; support workers’ needs; center equity in workforce development efforts; and plan for the future.


  • State of the public health workforce: Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic public health faced worker shortages, and since its onset there has been a mass exodus of workers from the field. Decades of funding cuts, pressures of the pandemic, an aging public health workforce, and lack of succession planning are driving trends.
  • Public health jobs during and post-COVID-19: Both recruitment and retention of public health workers is critical given the needs of pandemic response. Recruiting new workers with diverse skills and backgrounds, creating paid opportunities for students, and expanding recruitment efforts in communities and at minority-serving institutions can help expand the public health workforce. Retention strategies include loan forgiveness for service, increasing pay, improving working environments and benefits, and formalizing mentorship. Building workforce reserves of retired lab technicians and health care providers, and extending health care provider licenses can help build capacity during crises.
  • Priorities, strategies and skills: We must build up competencies and capacities of the public health workforce to provide essential public health services. New skills are needed to meet changing needs, including systems thinking, change management, data analytics, and diversity and inclusion.

Equity & Systems

Transforming our systems for equity requires diversifying the public health workforce and growing workforce competencies to address health inequities. Hiring community health workers and outreach workers who live in the communities they serve can expand access to health information and services, engage community members, and build trust.

Featured Resources

This webpage serves as a guide to help state and local leaders and allies advance urgent health equity priorities as part of COVID-19 response and recovery efforts. The guide is organized into six guiding principles for supporting a community-based workforce.

This article highlights the importance of and need for reliable, high-quality COVID-19 surveillance data. It provides a detailed chart of suggestions on how to improve the validity and interpretation of COVID-19 data by laying out commons issues, examples of misleading statements, and advices on how to better collect, display, and convey data.

This library provides resources and trainings to help public health workers build resilience.

This report discusses a modernized public health system that provides a framework of practical, prioritized, and bipartisan actions for policymakers and public health officials.

This website provides new resources, strategies and recommendations for strengthening the public health workforce.

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