Objectives: The objectives of our study were to (1) illustrate a public health workforce assessment process in a medium-sized city or county health department and (2) demonstrate the insights gained by moving from the use of aggregate department-level and competency domain-level training needs results to more granular division-level and skills-level results when creating a workforce development plan. Methods: We used a 130-question needs assessment to guide the creation of a workforce development plan for the Lincoln Lancaster County Health Department (LLCHD) in Nebraska and its 7 divisions. Using SurveyMonkey, we administered the survey to 128 (of the 129) LLCHD public health staff members in June 2015. Using a Likert scale, respondents indicated (1) the importance of the skill to their work and (2) their capacity to carry out 57 skills in 8 domains of the core competencies for public health professionals. We identified training needs as those for which the percentage of respondents who perceived moderate-to-high importance was at least 15 percentage points higher than the percentage of respondents who perceived moderate-to-high capacity. Results: LLCHD as a department had training needs in only 2 competency domains: financial planning and management (importance-capacity difference, 15 percentage points) and policy development and program planning (importance-capacity difference, 19 percentage points). The Health Promotion and Outreach division had training needs in all 8 domains (importance-capacity difference range, 15-45 percentage points). Of the 57 skills, 41 were identified by at least 1 of the LLCHD divisions as having training needs. In 24 instances, a division did not qualify as having training needs in the overall domain yet did have training needs for specific skills within a domain. Conclusions: When performing public health workforce assessments, medium-to-large public health departments can obtain detailed workforce training needs results that pertain to individual skills and that are tailored to each of their divisions. These results may help customize and improve workforce development plans, ensuring that the workforce has the necessary skills to do its job.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)395-403
Number of pages9
JournalPublic Health Reports
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2019


  • capacity building
  • public health assessment
  • public health performance
  • public health practice
  • training
  • workforce

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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