Public Health Workforce Development During and Beyond the COVID-19 Pandemic: Findings From a Qualitative Training Needs Assessment

J Public Health Manag Pract. 2022 Sep-Oct;28(5 Suppl 5):S263-S270. doi: 10.1097/PHH.0000000000001524.


Context: The Region V Public Health Training Center (RVPHTC) serves the public health workforce in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. An important tool in priority-setting workforce development is the training needs assessment (TNA), which is vital to identifying and addressing the capacity-building needs of the public health workforce.

Program: In 2021, we conducted semistructured qualitative interviews with key partners in the local, state, and tribal health workforce.

Implementation: Findings reflect the results of 23 interviews administered from March to May 2021. Questions solicited in-depth input related to key training gaps identified in our 2020 quantitative TNA; the impact of COVID-19 on the public health workforce; general needs, including preferred training modalities; needs by audience type; and the current capacity for public health agencies to support student development.

Evaluation: Key training needs of the public health workforce identified by the 2021 TNA include the strategic skills domains of (1) resource management; (2) change management; (3) justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion; and (4) effective communication. The first 3 domains were also noted as having the greatest training need in our 2020 quantitative TNA of local health department leadership.

Discussion: The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need for training in effective communication in new ways and the continued need for training support in the skill domains prioritized in the 2020 assessment. Findings demonstrate the need for capacity building around crosscutting skills and the intersection of strategic skill domains if the field is to be prepared for future threats to public health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Health Workforce
  • Humans
  • Needs Assessment
  • Pandemics
  • Public Health* / methods