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The Colorado Workforce Development Council (CWDC) has launched a newly-developed career pathways in public health in collaboration with the Trailhead Institute and the Colorado Public Health Workforce Collaborative.

The new public health career pathways found on the My Colorado Journey platform, aim to strengthen ongoing career development, raise awareness of the public health field, and meet the need for a skilled public health workforce, which has been increased by the COVID-19 pandemic. It could also serve as a model for other states looking to expand their public health workforce and the role they play.

“A great public health workforce is needed to ensure the health and safety of Coloradans now and post-pandemic,” says Governor Jared Polis. “The public health career pathways will help people get jobs and explore opportunities in the public health field for Coloradans.”

As the pandemic has dragged on, and as a segment of the population (and one political party) has politicized the pandemic, public health officials have been quitting (or being fired by Republican-leaning cunty commissioners) all across the state. Given the critical need, the state is choosing to reinforce the pipeline necessary to ensure that the state’s public health needs are met.

Three pathways in public health, environmental health, and administration were developed, covering more than 100 roles within the field, from entry- to advanced-level positions.

Those interested can view job descriptions, salary information, knowledge and ability requirements, and learn more about the industry as a whole on My Colorado Journey; a free career and academic exploration platform for job seekers, workers, and students. Pathways will be updated every quarter.

The National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness plan from the Biden-Harris administration calls for the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Labor to explore how to create “career ladder” programs and to connect these programs to an expanded containment workforce. These pathways may also serve as an example and model for other states facing this need in their own communities.

“For decades, the governmental public health system has been stretched and operating in the background, promoting health and wellness and protecting the environment,” says Jill Hunsaker Ryan, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).

“When COVID-19 arrived, we had to scale up quickly to respond effectively and could have benefited from a larger workforce of people formally trained in public health. The pandemic has shown us why it’s so important to be intentional about growing a talented workforce to prepare for the next emergency,” added Hunsaker Ryan. “The pathways initiative will train more people in jobs that truly make a difference.”

As with other pathways developed by the State of Colorado and its partners, the pathways’ development was collaborative and industry-led, bringing in industry, education, and workforce representatives from around the state. The pathways are intended to strengthen ongoing exploration of public health career opportunities, continuing Colorado’s 2020 efforts to train new healthcare apprentices to support COVID-19 containment efforts.

More information is available on My Colorado Journey, where those interested can explore the available pathways.