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News Release

Tuesday, August 23, 2016
Contact: OPM Office of Communications
Tel: (202) 606-2402

Pathways Programs Successfully Recruit and Retain Students and Recent College Grads into Federal Service

WASHINGTON, DC - The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has released a report on the use and effectiveness of the Pathways Programs, coinciding with the fourth anniversary of the program. Pathways, which consists of the Internship Program, the Recent Graduates Program, and the Presidential Management Fellows Program, provides distinct paths to Federal internships and potential careers in Government for students and recent graduates.

“In order to recruit and retain a world-class Federal workforce, agencies need to provide opportunities for potential employees to experience the rewarding careers within Government, and the Pathways Programs was created to do just that,” said OPM Acting Director Beth F. Cobert. “With more Federal employees becoming eligible for retirement, the Pathways Programs have become a great resource for agencies to help bolster our civil service ranks, and the report shows that retention rates among Pathways participants has been high so far,” said Cobert.

Recently, OPM conducted the Pathways Programs study to analyze agencies’ usage of Pathways, highlight notable practices, and develop recommendations for improvement in the effective and efficient use of the programs.

The study reveals that the Pathways Programs are right on target for hitting the Administration’s goal to strengthen the Federal workforce. The study also indicates that implementation of Pathways is resulting in:  greater transparency to the public because agencies are posting their Pathways job opportunity announcements on USAJOBS; enhanced recruitment efforts because agencies are reaching more diverse applicant groups; and agencies appropriately using Pathways to supplement, rather than replace, normal competitive hiring.

In addition, 93 percent of Pathways Programs appointees surveyed plan to remain at their current agencies or continue to work in the Federal Government in the immediate future.  Since the inception of Pathways in 2012 through Fiscal Year 2015, 35,364 Federal employees have been hired though these programs.

The study also shows areas for improvement. To maximize the Programs’ effectiveness, agencies should educate their supervisors and human resources (HR) staff on how to better collaborate in implementing the Pathways Programs to recruit and onboard new students and recent graduates.  Agencies also must commit the necessary resources to engage their newly-hired employees through dedicated mentors.  Furthermore, agencies should consider strengthening their workforce planning efforts by using the Pathways hiring authorities strategically as part of their succession planning efforts.

In conjunction with the fourth anniversary of the Pathways Programs, OPM is also:

  • Hosting a webinar series to enhance Federal hiring managers’ understanding of helpful guidelines for the successful implementation of Pathways at their agencies. The webinars will be offered through October and are available on

  • Releasing new resources, developed in coordination with an interagency working group, to help hiring managers and HR professionals recruit highly-skilled students and recent graduates.  The new tools include the Pathways Handbook for Human Resources Specialists, and the Pathways Hiring Manager’s Toolkit.  

Earlier this year, in support of the People and Culture pillar of the President’s Management Agenda, OPM rolled out the Hiring Excellence Campaign (HEC) to improve, modernize and transform the way Federal agencies recruit and hire new talent into Federal service. Through trainings across the nation and materials provided to human resources staff and supervisors in Federal agencies, the HEC details the many hiring authorities available - such as Pathways Programs - that can help agencies connect with the nation’s top talent. 

In addition, OPM continues to conduct in-person and virtual outreach activities to educate students from all segments of society about the Pathways Programs. We also use social media platforms to provide them with information on how to write a Federal resume and navigate USAJOBS. These outreach efforts have been effective in raising awareness of the Pathways Programs in areas and schools where traditional recruiting efforts have not been utilized as frequently.

Please visit for more information on the Pathways Programs. Students and recent graduates can apply for current Pathways internships and job postings at

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The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is the leader in workforce management for the federal government. Our agency builds, strengthens, and serves a federal workforce of 2.2 million employees with programs like hiring assistance, healthcare and insurance, retirement benefits, and much more. We provide agencies with policies, guidance, and best practices for supporting federal workers, so they can best serve the American people.

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