Public Health is Stronger Together (PHIST) is a collaborative initiative that formed out of the budget crisis in 2016 and brought together the Illinois Public Health Association (IPHA); Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH); Illinois Association of Public Health Administrators (IAPHA); Northern Illinois Public Health Consortium (NIPHC); Southern Illinois Public Health Consortium (SIPHC); and the University of Illinois at Chicago, School of Public Health’s MidAmerica Center for Public Health Practice (UIC-SPH MCPHP). As a part of the PHIST initiative, workforce development was identified as a focus area for strengthening the public health system in Illinois. PHIST continues to work on strategic improvements in the public health system and has had a number of successes through increased collaboration and alignment of effort across the system. The development of this plan has been a collaborative effort.
In 2017 the Illinois Public Health Association working in conjunction with PHIST and supported by funds from the Region V Great Lakes Public Health Training Collaborative at UIC SPH, formed a Workforce Development Committee (WDC). The Committee conducted an assessment to develop and implement a plan that aligns workforce development efforts throughout the state of Illinois improving public health practice. This plan is designed to highlight existing resources, more effectively address current needs, and to build a better coordinated overarching system of addressing public health workforce development in Illinois.
The governmental public health workforce in Illinois is shrinking, based on numbers of employees in local health departments from 4 years ago to those today. Seventy percent of local health departments have 30 or fewer employees as a part of their public health workforce. There are only 2.8 local public health employees per 10,000 people in Illinois. In addition, 37% of local health departments are led by those with less than five years of experience. These trends are adding to the challenge of providing workforce development along with the need to focus the workforce on the implementation of Public Health 3.0., a new framework for focusing on social determinants of health to address the new challenges faced by public health practitioners.
Through an assessment of barriers, needs, and existing opportunities the following issues were identified as key workforce development topics for Illinois governmental public health staff:
- additional training needed on administrative skills and leadership development,
- a mechanism to more effectively address emerging issues, and
- a systematic approach that ensures a coordinated effort and effective use of limited resources to address workforce development needs.
Workforce Development Goals
To address the priority issues identified goals and objectives were developed. Following are the goals for the Illinois Workforce Development Plan:
Goal 1: Develop a system for the effective use of workforce development resources.
Goal 2: Offer leadership development opportunities with a focus on skill building around systems thinking, emerging issues, and the recommendations from PH 3.0*.
Goal 3: Provide and promote training on management and administrative skills, with a focus on the Public Health Core Competencies and skill development.
Goal 4: Support and foster the development of the future public health workforce.
The detailed goals and objectives can be found posted on the IPHA website at www.ipha.com.
*Key components of PH 3.0: becoming a chief health strategist, focusing on social determinants of health and health equity, building cross-sector partnerships, increasing the optimal use of data, aligning infrastructure with public health standards and finding innovative ways to fund programming
The partners of the PHIST Initiative are committed to the implementation of this plan and have shared a letter of commitment outlining their responsibilities. The IPHA Workforce Development Committee will provide oversight to the plan’s dissemination and implementation by tracking and reporting progress, through actively promoting coordination and alignment of efforts, assessing for emerging needs, and sharing workforce development best practices tools and resources. IPHA staff will serve as the point of contact for the implementation of the plan and the IPHA website will serve as a collective site for sharing of resources, best practices, and reports on progress. The plan includes a number of appendices with resources and templates which can be used to support the development of local workforce plans.
The plan will be broadly disseminated with a focus on how to use the plan to focus and align workforce development opportunities throughout Illinois.
Find the plan here: Illinois Workforce Development Plan 2018-2021