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News Release

Tuesday, August 15, 2023
Contact: Office of Communications

RELEASE: Office of Personnel Management Issues Proposed Regulations to Update Pathways Programs, Provide Agencies More Flexibility to Recruit Early Career Talent

Washington, D.C. –The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issued proposed regulations today updating the Pathways Programs to better meet the federal government's needs to recruit and hire early career talent and recent graduates.  

The proposed regulations for the Pathways Programs would:  

  • Expand applicant eligibility for the Recent Graduates program to include individuals who may or may not have degrees, but who have completed qualifying career or technical education programs, including Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, Job Corps, and Registered Apprenticeships. 

  • Provide agencies with additional time to convert interns into permanent positions (up to 180 days from the current 120 days), which will broaden employment opportunities for both applicants and agencies. 

  • Allow Internship applicants who have completed Registered Apprenticeship Programs and Job Corps to credit up to 320 hours served in those programs toward the total 640 hours required for interns to be eligible to convert to a permanent federal position.  

“Early career programs are a critical pathway into public service,” said OPM Director Kiran Ahuja. “Updating the Pathways Programs will allow the federal government to better compete with other sectors for talent and ensure the paths to public service are clear and fair. Whether you’re entering the workforce for the first time or changing professions, the federal government offers opportunities in every sector and every industry.”  

“The Pathways Programs are an effective tool to recruit young talent into the federal workforce and develop the next generation of public servants,” said Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su. “Expanding this program to include graduates from Job Corps and Registered Apprenticeship Programs advances the President’s commitment to a federal government that reflects the diversity of the communities we serve and enables agencies to reach a broader pool of talent – because equity and excellence go hand-in-hand.”  

Individuals who successfully complete one of the Pathways Programs may be eligible for a permanent job in the federal civil service.  

The three programs are:   

  • Internship Program: This is designed to provide students from high school to graduate level, enrolled in school at least part-time, with opportunities for paid work in agencies and to explore federal careers while still in school. Interns must complete 640 hours (320 hours if they receive a waiver) in their internship to be eligible for conversion.   
  • Recent Graduates Program: These are one to two-year developmental experiences in agencies for graduates from qualifying educational institutions. Individuals must apply within two years of completing a degree or certificate (veterans precluded from applying due to military service have up to six years after degree completion to apply).  
  • Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program: The PMF Program is the federal government’s flagship leadership development program for recent graduates with an advanced degree (graduate or professional level such as J.D. or M.D). PMFs also participate in a formal professional development program with a rotational developmental assignment.  

“The Pathways Programs has been a very welcoming experience” said Dwane L Larkin, an intern-trainee at the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB). “My plan is to transition to a full-time role at the end of my program. I love my job environment, and it is extremely challenging, pushing me to be a better version of myself daily. I would advise anyone interested in federal service to apply through the Pathways Program. It’s worth the effort, and the training is priceless.”    

The proposed update to the Pathways Programs also helps advance the Workforce Priority of the President’s Management Agenda. Launched by Executive Order 13562 in December 2010, the Pathways Programs allow students or recent graduates to gain experience in the federal government. The last Pathways regulations were issued in 2012. 

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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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