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OPM makes changes to the Pathways Program

On Behalf of | Apr 19, 2024 | Firm News

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has rolled out a final rule updating the Pathways Programs, which are designed to enhance opportunities for early-career individuals to enter the federal government. This update represents a significant reform for the 14-year-old program. The new rule introduces skill-based hiring for various career programs, higher starting salaries for recent graduates, and an easier transition for interns to secure permanent federal positions.

The OPM made these changes to increase the hiring of interns, fellows, apprentices, recent students and trainees, thus bolstering federal agencies’ talent pipelines. In line with OPM’s emphasis on the importance of early career programs in recruiting future government leaders, the new rule allows for a broader spectrum of candidates, including those without college degrees but who have completed qualifying career or technical education programs.

Notable changes

Here’s a summary of the critical expansions and flexibilities introduced:

  • Individuals from career or technical education programs, including Peace Corps and AmeriCorps, can now apply for the Recent Graduates program.
  • Reducing the number of hours required for interns to convert to a permanent position and extending the conversion period to facilitate smoother transitions to federal careers.
  • Agencies can now offer Recent Graduates a higher starting salary (up to GS-11), which makes federal positions more competitive.
  • New guidance and tools, such as an updated handbook and webinars, will be provided to support HR professionals and hiring managers.

Officials from various federal departments, including the VA and Labor, support the updated Pathways Programs, recognizing their role in recruiting and developing a diverse and skilled workforce. The new rules also align with the President’s commitment to a federal workforce that reflects the diversity of the American population.

The Pathways Programs

There are three main tracks:

  • Interns: Opportunities for students to work and explore federal careers while in school.
  • Recent Graduates: Developmental experiences in federal agencies for graduates, including those from technical programs.
  • Presidential Management Fellows (PMFs): A leadership development program for advanced degree candidates and graduates.

A goal of diversity and equity

The OPM’s new rule strengthens the federal government’s talent pipeline by making federal careers more accessible and appealing to early career talent from various educational and professional backgrounds. These efforts ensure federal agencies have access to a diverse group of young and talented people eager to start their careers in public service. Those with questions on how these changes potentially effect their employment status may want to contact the firm.


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