Goal 4: Develop CDC’s IT Workforce of the Future

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The need to provide state-of-the-science analysis and insight requires both the availability of modern tools and a technologically skilled workforce. The fields of public health and IT are inextricably linked by the fact that both are being transformed by the new and emerging technologies that require a digitally skilled workforce to harness their promised benefits. CDC has created a “CDC 2030 Workforce” initiative chartered with identifying and defining the skills and workforce of the future while creating the tactical action plans required to make this future a reality. The workforce development strategies explicitly focused on the IT workforce are part of the “CDC 2030 Workforce” initiative’s tactical plan, including identification of desirable skills and employee experiences that advance digital competency and sustain agency workforce engagement and participation.

Objective 4.1: IT- and Data-Savvy Workforce: Support IT workforce development opportunities to enable agency data and technology modernization.

Objective Description:

CDC requires an IT workforce with the knowledge, skills, and resources to continuously learn and apply emerging technologies that advance the public health mission. Developing “in-house” expertise within emerging technology specialties such as AI, robotic process automation (RPA), or even more established areas such as cloud computing will allow CDC to improve public health outcomes in ways that are simply not possible today. To ensure availability of the right IT expertise, the agency will establish IT workforce development plans and curricula that allow employees to acquire and continue to develop necessary skills. This objective builds on existing efforts, such as the Public Health Informatics Fellowship Program (PHIFP) and the Data Academy, to increase workforce data and IT competencies and enhance CDC’s and our partners’ ability to solve complex public health problems. A continuous learning approach ensures that CDC can take advantage of technology to advance the public health mission today and remain adaptable to the opportunities and challenges that will accompany tomorrow.

Objective 4.2: Enhanced Employee Experience: Cultivate a sustainable IT workforce that is engaged, creative, and forward-looking in ideas and actions.

Objective Description:

To develop and sustain the IT workforce of the future, the CDC will provide a positive and robust employee experience, defined as an organizational culture where staff believe they can learn, develop, innovate, and flourish. IT skills can become outdated seemingly overnight; staying current means adopting a growth mindset. IT professionals understand this and seek out places to work that offer a variety of opportunities to gain hands-on experience, foster professional growth, and continually add new skills. CDC must create an employee experience that clearly articulates the ability for career progression through position mobility, robust professional learning, development opportunities, and personal growth. Creating a work environment that allows CDC to attract and keep talent also means fostering a culture that values diversity, equity, and inclusion in both thought and deed. Establishing an environment where the IT workforce can develop and thrive will allow CDC to sustain a workforce of the future that can harness the power of technology to support the mission of public health.

Outcome and Mission Impact:

The efforts outlined in this modernization strategy cannot be executed or sustained without ensuring that the right skills exist to implement the necessary changes and deliver on the promise of advancing technology. A strengthened IT workforce–composed of highly skilled, well-trained IT professionals–will allow CDC to respond agilely to changes in the technological landscape that affect public health. However, organizations struggle with digital disruption not just because of the speed of technological change, but also because of the unevenness with which new technologies can be absorbed and assimilated across organizations. To expand the agency’s “absorption capacity,” another outcome of this goal will be to provide the incentives and tools that encourage a mindset of continuous learning. This means that CDC’s IT workforce will be prepared to test fast, learn fast, and scale fast as new technologies and approaches come available to advance public health outcomes.

The Office of the Chief Information Officer is part of CDC’s Office of the Chief Operating Officer.