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The Final Rule implementing the Pathways Programs has been published. It will take effect as of July 10, 2012. Agencies may continue to use the existing student and Presidential Management Fellows hiring authorities until the effective date of the Final Rule. The Recent Graduates Program will become available to agencies after the effective date of the Final Rule and the agency's completion of a memorandum of understanding with OPM.
The Federal Government values the contributions made by students and recent graduates of all ages and backgrounds. We have been placed at a competitive disadvantage, though, compared to other sectors in recruiting and hiring students and recent graduates. To address these difficulties, President Obama signed Executive Order 13562 , entitled "Recruiting and Hiring Students and Recent Graduates," on December 27, 2010.
This Executive order established two new programs and modified another. They are the Internship Program for current students; the Recent Graduates Program for people who have recently graduated from qualifying educational institutions or programs (2 years from the date the graduate completed an academic course of study); and the reinvigorated Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program for people who obtained an advanced degree (e.g., graduate or professional degree) within the preceding two years. These programs, collectively the Pathways Programs, are streamlined developmental programs tailored to promote employment opportunities for students and recent graduates in the Federal workforce.
As directed by the Executive order, OPM issued a final Pathways Rule to implement these programs. The final rule aims to improve recruiting efforts, offer clear paths to Federal internships for students from high school through post-graduate school and to careers for recent graduates, and to provide meaningful training and career development opportunities for individuals who are at the beginning of their Federal service.
The Internship Program is for current students. It replaces the Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) and Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP). The new Internship Program provides students in high schools, colleges, trade schools and other qualifying educational institutions with paid opportunities to work in agencies and explore Federal careers while completing their education.
The Recent Graduates Program provides developmental experiences in the Federal Government. It is intended to promote possible careers in the civil service to individuals who, within the previous two years, graduated from qualifying educational institutions with an associates, bachelors, masters, professional, doctorate, vocational or technical degree or certificate from qualifying educational institutions. To be eligible, applicants must apply within the previous two years of degree or certificate completion except for veterans precluded from doing so due to their military service obligation, who will have up to six years after degree or certificate completion to apply. For more information about Federal employment information for veterans, go to OPM's Feds Hire Vets website.
For more than three decades, the PMF Program has been the Federal Government's premier leadership development program for advanced degree (e.g., masters or professional degree) candidates. Executive Order 13562 expands the eligibility window for applicants, making it more "student friendly" by aligning it with academic calendars and allowing those who have received a qualifying advanced degree within the preceding two years to participate. It also directs OPM to set eligibility requirements and minimum qualification standards, and to make the PMF experience more robust and substantive for participants.
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The Internship Program replaces the Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) and Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP). This Program is designed to provide students enrolled in a wide variety of educational institutions, from high school to graduate level, with opportunities to work in agencies and explore Federal careers while still in school and while getting paid for the work performed. Students who successfully complete the program may be eligible for conversion to a permanent job in the civil service. Additional information about the Internship Program can be found at USAJOBS. Here are some key provisions of the Internship Program.
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The Recent Graduates Program affords developmental experiences in the Federal Government intended to promote possible careers in the civil service to individuals who have recently graduated from qualifying educational institutions or programs. To be eligible, applicants must apply within two years of degree or certificate completion (except for veterans precluded from doing so due to their military service obligation, who will have up to six years after degree completion to apply). Successful applicants are placed in a dynamic, developmental program with the potential to lead to a civil service career in the Federal Government. The program lasts for 1 year (unless the training requirements of the position warrant a longer and more structured training program). Here are some key provisions of the Recent Graduates Program.
The Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program is a flagship leadership development program at the entry-level for advanced degree candidates. Created more than three decades ago, the Program attracts and selects from among the best candidates and is designed to develop a cadre of potential Federal Government leaders. Here are some key provisions of the PMF Program.
The Student Educational Employment Program provides Federal employment opportunities to students who are enrolled or accepted for enrollment as degree seeking students taking at least a half-time academic, technical, or vocational course load in an accredited high school, technical, vocational, 2 or 4 year college or university, graduate or professional school. The Student Educational Employment Program established December 16, 1994, is a streamlined program which replaces the old Federal Student Employment Program by consolidating four programs:
This new, streamlined program is comprised of two components: the Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP), and the Student Career Experience Program (SCEP). The STEP provides maximum flexibility to both students and managers because the nature of the work does not have to be related to the student's academic or career goals. The SCEP, however, provides work experience which is directly related to the student's academic program and career goals. Students in the SCEP may be noncompetitively converted to term, career or career-conditional appointments following completion of their academic and work experience requirements.
The Student Educational Employment Program benefits both agencies and students. Agencies can discover first-hand the abilities of a potential employee. In the case of SCEP, agencies can bring well educated graduates into their workforce while at the same time give their managers the ability to evaluate the student's performance in real work situations. Students, on the other hand, can avail themselves of such flexibilities as year round employment and flexible work schedules and assignments. Students in the SCEP gain exposure to public service while enhancing their educational goals and shaping their career choices.
We encourage agencies to utilize the Student Educational Employment Program authority for several reasons. Even in an era of downsizing, there is a continuing need to recruit and develop talented employees to support changing agency missions, ensure that the Government can meet its professional, technical, and administrative needs, and achieve a quality and diverse workforce. Appointments made under the Student Educational Employment Program authority can help agencies meet these needs.
The Office of Personnel Management has eliminated language in title 5, Code of Federal Regulations, that placed certain restrictions on agency hiring during the traditional summer months. These changes (62 FR 19899) became effective April 24, 1997. This means that agencies wishing to hire individuals on a temporary basis during the traditional summer months should use competitive temporary appointments or excepted student temporary appointments. In addition, other excepted appointments (e.g., the appointment of individuals with mental or physical disabilities) may be used as appropriate. Agencies are encouraged to review the following provisions:
Agencies recruiting under the Student Educational Employment Program are strongly encouraged to enter their vacancies into the database. The Governmentwide Automated Employment Information System is readily accessible to the academic community via the world wide web, computer bulletin boards, and telephone. This information system contains specific searches for jobs being filled during the summer months. It is an effective and cost efficient way to reach high quality candidates worldwide.
In making these competitive or excepted appointments, just as with other appointments, the rules on veterans' preference, nepotism, and priority referral of displaced Federal employees apply.
Also, agencies must use the appropriate coding instructions contained in the Guide to Processing Personnel Actions
The following lists some of the documents referenced in the final regulations.