The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issued proposed regulations today to update the Pathways Programs to expand opportunities for early career professionals and better meet the Federal government’s workforce needs.

There are currently three Pathways Programs: the Internship Program for current students; the Recent Graduates Program for people who graduated from qualifying educational institutions or programs within the last two years; and the Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program for people who obtained an advanced degree within the last two years.

However, the proposed regulations aim to expand applicant eligibility for the Recent Graduates Program to include those 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,” OPM said.

Additionally, OPM aims to provide agencies with more time to convert interns into permanent positions. Under the current Internship Program, agencies have 120 days to convert interns into a permanent role, but the proposed regulations would expand that time period to 180 days.

OPM also said the proposed regulations would allow Internship Program 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 proposed update to the Pathways Programs aligns with the President’s Management Agenda (PMA) priority to strengthen and empower the Federal workforce. The Pathways Programs were first launched in December 2010, and OPM has not issued Pathways regulations since 2012.

The update also aligns with OPM’s guidance to agencies earlier this year that encouraged agencies to expand their intern and other early-career ranks as one way to help grow the Federal workforce with new and younger talent. Notably, agencies committed to hiring over 35,000 interns in the coming year in President Biden’s fiscal year (FY) 2023 budget.

“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.”

“The Pathways Programs has been a very welcoming experience,” added 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.”

Read More About
More Topics
Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is MeriTalk's Assistant Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.