Who is the Public Health Workforce?

The public health workforce can be broadly split into two distinct workforce groups – those that are employed wholly in a public health role or capacity – the core public health workforce and 
the wider public health workforce  

For more information regarding careers in public health go to www.healthcareers.nhs.uk 

Core Public Health Workforce

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The definition of the core public health workforce as defined by Centre for Workforce Intelligence (CfWI) is:

‘All staff engaged in public health activities who identify public health as being the primary part of their role.’

Work carried out by the Centre for Workforce Intelligence broadly defined 11 distinct job roles, including public health consultants, health visitors, school nurses and health trainers. The document on the left provides further details.



Wider Public Health Workforce

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The much larger wider or wider public health workforce includes occupations both within and outside of traditional healthcare roles and is estimated to potentially include around 15 million plus people in paid and unpaid job roles. Public health is not their sole role or occupation, they nonetheless have a significant public health role and contribution to make – sometimes well recognised by individuals / professions / occupational groups and sometimes not so well recognised. This presents a tremendous opportunity for us here in the North West and the NWPHPN is committed to supporting the development of this wider workforce in health and care settings.

The network is largely focused on the role of the wider workforce within health, social care and voluntary sector settings.


The Public Health Skills and Knowledge Framework

The Framework sets out the functional areas in which individuals, teams and organisations operate, to deliver on public health outcomes. 

  • Core public health roles currently require skills and knowledge at or above level 5 of the nine-level public health skills and knowledge framework (PHSKF). The PHSKF is a tool for people working in public health that describes the skills and knowledge necessary for their work, and helps them to identify their development needs.
  • Roles at levels 1-4 of the PHSKF may be considered as part of the wider public health workforce and as a potential step towards developing a career in a core public health role.