The federal government is making some needed changes to the way it hires and places interns and recent graduates in its agencies. With an executive order this week, President Barack Obama has attempted to give a fair chance to those fresh out of school who tend to have less experience than seasoned employees.
The president has given orders to the director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to reclassify programs for interns, recent graduates, and Presidential Management Fellows. All of these tracks will now be grouped under the new moniker of ‘Pathways Programs.’
The primary goal is to simplify the recruitment and hiring processes for each federal department that uses a Pathways Program employee. It will also improve the chances that the students and recent graduates can make a successful transition to full-time employment with the federal government. In the tight economy, the government must compete with the private sector for talent at every level.
“The Federal Government benefits from a diverse workforce that includes students and recent graduates, who infuse the workplace with their enthusiasm, talents, and unique perspectives,” the executive order read.
The president did acknowledge in the executive order, though, the ongoing challenges faced by younger, more inexperienced civil service candidates.
“The existing competitive hiring process for the Federal civil service, however, is structured in a manner that, even at the entry level, favors job applicants who have significant previous work experience.”
Some of the biggest changes to the Pathways Programs include the creation of the new Internship Program, formerly known as the Student Career Experience Program. The order also establishes a new Recent Graduates program targeted at those who have completed their education in the past two years (or six years for active duty military personnel).
The Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program will remain in tact. It will continue to focus on recent graduates with strong leadership potential who are no more than two years out of school. Candidates have a two-year cap on remaining in the Recent Graduates and PMF programs before they must seek full-time, competitive employment with the government.
President Obama’s executive order gives specific instructions to the OPM that requires that they track the effectiveness of agencies in hiring and retaining talent. They must also train managers to work with and properly assess Pathways participants. Career-development, training, and mentorship opportunities will also be outlined for those in the program. Federal agencies will soon see new names for Pathways positions in an attempt to help candidates navigate through career tracks.
Federal agencies, with the help of the Office of Personnel Management, can expect the changes to the Pathways Programs beginning in early March 2011.