In support of the Employment First Initiative, the Wolf Administration has announced that they are welcoming 30 Pennsylvania college students with disabilities who will participate in summer internships with state agencies.
“The OVR Internship program gives students with disabilities access to the same opportunities as their peers to gain experience in their field of study, develop their professional networks, build their resumes, and be better prepared to enter the workforce,” said Secretary of Administration Michael Newsome. “We are proud to offer the type of competitive opportunities envisioned by Employment First.”
The number of participants for the internship program has grown by 50% from the previous program that was held in 2019.
The class this year will include students participating remotely from Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
The OVR Internship Program was developed by the Department of Labor and Industry, the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, and the Office of Administration.
It was OVR that recruited the students and OA that facilitated their placement within state agencies.
“The OVR Internship program is a wonderful example of ‘Government that Works.’ Not only has this partnership expanded the Office of Administration’s knowledge about hiring people with disabilities but the interns themselves have broken down barriers with hiring managers in their host sites by their dedication, personalities, and personal achievements. This is truly a win-win-win program for all involved, and OVR, in partnership with the Office of Administration, continues to look for ways to expand the program and hiring initiatives for people with disabilities within the commonwealth,” said Acting OVR Director Ryan Hyde.
Under Governor Wolf’s leadership, OA has been able to modernize the recruitment and hiring practices with a more accessible application process and job postings, employment website, and new programs to attract talent.
The ability to apply for most of jobs online without traveling to a testing center makes it easier for all job seekers to pursue employment opportunities with state agencies, including individuals with disabilities.
The ability to work remotely in these positions will also increase the opportunities for candidates.
Candidates can self-disclose that they have a disability during the application process which will give OA greater insight into disability hiring, the number of employees with disabilities in its workforce, and providing the applicant with the ability to begin the process to ask for any potential accommodations needed to perform the duties of the job.
It was Governor Wolf who established the Employment First policy by executive order in March of 2016 to improve employment outcomes for people with disabilities and make Pennsylvania a model state when it comes to creating a climate hospitable to workers with disabilities.
Governor Wolf then signed the Employment First Act in 2018. This act requires state, county, and other entities receiving public funding to first consider competitive integrated employment as the preferred outcome of publicly funded education, training, employment, and related services, and long-term services and support for individuals with a disability who are eligible to work under state law.
OVR provides vocational rehabilitation services to help persons with disabilities prepare for, obtain, or maintain employment.
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In the program year ending on June 30, OVR has helped place 4,787 people into employment and connected with over 4,300 Pennsylvania employers to achieve hiring results.