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Shapiro Administration Welcomes 25 College Students with Disabilities for Summer Internship Program at Commonwealth Agencies

06/04/2024

L&I's Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) Internship Program offers students with disabilities the opportunity to gain valuable work experience and skills to support their career goals
 
The OVR Internship Program supports the goals of the Governor's Hire, Improve, Recruit, Empower (HIRE) Executive Order and Committee to expand career development opportunities and foster a diverse and inclusive state government workforce
 
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Harrisburg, PA – The Shapiro Administration today welcomed 25 Pennsylvania college students with disabilities who are participating in paid summer internships at Commonwealth agencies through a program offered by the Department of Labor & Industry (L&I)'s Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) and the Office of Administration (OA).

"Internships are a great way to gain work experience and exposure to prospective employers, both of which can be challenging for people with disabilities," said Secretary of Administration Neil Weaver. "Integrated employment opportunities like the OVR internship give these students a chance to prove themselves and dispel misperceptions about the capabilities of people with disabilities to contribute in the workplace."

"A summer internship gives students the skills and experience they need to launch fulfilling careers and chart their own course," said L&I Secretary Nancy A. Walker. "The OVR internship program shows the next generation of workers the crucial role that Commonwealth agencies play in serving Pennsylvanians -- and equips them with the necessary tools and confidence needed to be successful in the workplace."

Secretary of Labor & Industry Nancy Walker, OVR Director Ryan Hyde, and Acting Deputy Secretary for Human Resources and Management Jason Swarthout met with the interns during their orientation yesterday morning, held in person in Harrisburg and offered virtually for students participating from other locations in Pennsylvania.

The 25 students hail from across Pennsylvania and will be based in Harrisburg, as well as Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Reading, Johnstown, and Norristown. The interns will serve in OA and L&I, as well as the Departments of Agriculture, Community and Economic Development, Corrections, Environmental Protection, General Services, and Human Services.

In addition to gaining work experience and exposure to Commonwealth employment, the OVR interns will also receive professional development opportunities such as improving their interviewing skills and networking within the Commonwealth. The interns will also be treated to a brunch with First Lady Lori Shapiro at the Governor's Residence.

Last month, Governor Josh Shapiro signed Executive Order 2024-01 to establish the Hire, Improve, Recruit, Empower (HIRE) Committee to expand opportunities for Pennsylvanians seeking careers in public service, continue to build a more competitive workforce, and make state government the best place to work in the Commonwealth. The committee, with OA Secretary Weaver as the chair and OVR as a member, will continue efforts to widen pathways to Commonwealth employment for individuals with disabilities.

Since taking office, Governor Shapiro has prioritized creating and expanding opportunities to those who want a career in public service and making the Commonwealth more attractive to job seekers. This includes:

  • Signing an Executive Order emphasizing skills and experience in hiring for state government jobs.
  • Removing the college credit requirement for Pennsylvanians who want to serve as state troopers.
  • Expanded paid parental leave to up to eight weeks following a qualifying birth, adoption, or foster care placement, an increase from the previous six weeks offered.
  • Enhanced work-life benefits by expanding support services offered through the Commonwealth's State Employee Assistance Program (SEAP) to support a healthy work-life balance for Commonwealth employees.
  • Invested in mental health and educational resources for our employees and their families.
  • Expanded internship, fellowship, and apprenticeship programs to bring more people into state government to create new pipelines for talent.

 
The Commonwealth is one of the largest employers in Pennsylvania – and in September 2023, the Commonwealth was ranked among the top employers in Pennsylvania by workers in a survey conducted by Forbes and was ranked among the top employers in the nation by college graduates in July 2023.

Pennsylvanians interested in a career in public service with the Commonwealth can easily search among the thousands of open positions that don't require a four-year degree on OA's website.

Pennsylvanians can also explore internships, fellowships, apprenticeships, and other open opportunities and careers in state government on OA's 'Launch Your Career' webpage.

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