Attracting a Younger Workforce

I recently received the following email from a colleague, whom I had asked to write something for me:

i did a ppt for a buncha reporters a week or so ago. gives you some idea of the ground i would cover in the piece. I think the dec deadline is prolly doable but when is the deadline for the NEXT edition, btw?

My first thought on receiving this email was, Will I have to ask him to write “probably” instead of “prolly” in his article? My second thought was, Boy, I’m getting old!

Wouldn’t it be nice if we had the problem of too many young people entering the public health workforce? As you may know – by looking around and by reading the literature – our workforce is aging. Many of us are merely a bit too old to take easily to writing that looks like a phone-text message. Others are actually aging out – retiring – and leaving the workforce depleted. It behooves us all to think about ways to bring more young people into the profession. Positive benefits of this might be a workforce that is

- open to (and full of) new ideas
- more technologically savvy
- energetic and idealistic
- more in touch with the population we serve

So, how do we get people interested? One way might be to reach out to high schools, colleges, and universities to inform students about what public health is and how they might make a difference with a career in this field. A great way to do this might be through a public health business plan!

Some Dare County, NC grads started a great plan that involved middle school students teaching elementary school students about healthy living. Students took their involvement much further than the original plan required, and ended up getting involved in other local programs around addressing teen smoking and drinking. A team from Wilmington partnered with veterinary students and introduced them to population-level pet concerns while training them and tapping into their enthusiasm and budding expertise; a South Carolina team worked with a university partner to plan a women’s health clinic on campus. A team this year is planning a summer program for children that will provide intern possibilities to local college students.

Other teams over the years have planned programs at schools, or for young people, but not necessarily getting young people involved. A small tweak to their plan might add a component that ensures at least some kids say, “Hey, that might be something I want to do” (or, more likely, “i wanna do”) long-term!