Changing healthcare demands and new health technologies pose challenges for healthcare professionals who need to expand their repertoire of competencies in order to function effectively in the 21st Century (Van Merriënboer et al., 2009).
This is particularly true for Public Health practitioners who work in a very dynamic field. A Green Paper from the EU Commission calls for greater investment in workforce planning whilst the EU Council has called for greater priority to be given to lifelong learning as ‘a basic component of the European social model’ (European Commission, 2008a).
In line with the establishment of LLP (Decision No 1720/2006/EC), Lisbon goal of making the EU competitive knowledge-based economy with better jobs and "New Skills for New Jobs" communication stressing the need to anticipate and match future skills needs, Maastricht University in collaboration with the Association of the Schools of Public Health in European Region (ASPHER) and the European Public Health Association (EUPHA) carried out a needs analysis (NA) to determine current supply and demand for LLL provision for European PH practitioners. The online survey addressed 79 ASPHER and 37 EUPHA members (Mikeska, 2009). The findings suggest that there is a mismatch between supply and demand and many of those labelled as LLL courses by Public Health schools were in fact, drawn from more generic BSc or MSc programmes including ‘traditional’ public health subjects such as epidemiology, biostatistics, health management and administration.
In contrast, practitioners expressed the needed for courses in: leadership, management, organisational planning, teamwork, research, and critical thinking. Courses offered by PH schools fail to meet the needs and expectations of the Public Health workforce, and the LEPHIE Project is therefore designed to address an important area identified as lacking, namely the provision of leadership training for PH professionals.
Dr Katarzyna Czabanowska