Gov. Wolf: Forbes Survey Ranks Commonwealth of PA Among the Best Employers for New Grads

June 24, 2021

Governor Tom Wolf announced that, for the first time ever, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was named one of the best employers in the nation for new graduates in a survey conducted by Forbes and market research company Statista.

“Commonwealth employees do hard work every day to serve their fellow Pennsylvanians, and I am proud to work alongside them,” said Governor Wolf. “To bring the best and brightest to public service, it is important that we continue to modernize our approach to work to keep pace with the private sector and other public employers. Right now, agencies under my jurisdiction are implementing a new telework policy that will help us to better attract and retain employees, while continuing to provide first-class service to the public. We will continue to evaluate the needs of our employees and the Pennsylvanians they serve to ensure our commonwealth lives up to its role as a leading public sector employer.”

“By modernizing the hiring process, creating pathways from college to career and being more competitive in the job market, the Wolf administration has orchestrated a remarkable turnaround in the way young professionals perceive state government,” said Secretary of Administration Michael Newsome. “Seven years ago, we had college students telling us they would only apply for a state job if they were desperate. Today, we are being ranked nationally as an employer of choice for a new generation of workers.”

Key improvements under the Wolf administration include:

More Convenient Application Process

The application process for the vast majority of commonwealth jobs can now be completed entirely online. Previously, most civil service jobs required an applicant to schedule and complete a computerized exam at one of seven test centers. As a result, many individuals would submit applications, but never complete their exams. Depending on the position, the loss rate of applicants could range from 30 percent to as high as 75 percent. For positions where agencies still require an in-person exam, OA has expanded testing locations available to applicants.

Applicants can now opt to receive information about job openings via email and to receive additional communications via email or text message, rather than by U.S. mail only. OA also recently launched a service that allows applicants to schedule interviews with hiring managers online.

Easier to Understand Job Postings

In most cases, state agencies now advertise specific job vacancies with online postings that describe the position that is available, the job duties, location, starting salary and other details. In the past, job seekers had to apply to general categories, such as accounting, information technology or administrative, and then wait – sometimes up to a year – to be notified which jobs – if any – were available. OA also works with hiring managers to write job postings that are free of bureaucratic language and unnecessary jargon that may be confusing to applicants.

Modernized Jobs Website

The commonwealth’s job website,, was redesigned to more effectively represent state government as a place where you can enjoy a rewarding career and make a positive impact on the lives of Pennsylvanians. The website includes step-by-step tutorials for how to apply, as well as information about health and financial benefits, career development opportunities and resources for Veterans. In addition, multiple phone numbers were replaced with a single help line for applicants. In the past, job seekers needed to visit separate websites to view and apply for civil service and non-civil service employment.

New Programs to Attract Talent

The Wolf administration has established several programs in recent years to bolster recruitment.

  • The Commonwealth Public Service Internship program was created in 2015 to offer a path from college to careers in state government. College students can be promoted into a permanent or trainee position after successfully completing six months of paid internship with a state agency.
  • OA and the Department of Labor and Industry’s Office of Vocational Rehabilitation partnered in 2018 to offer an internship program to increase competitive-integrated employment for people with disabilities and make Pennsylvania a model state when it comes to creating a climate hospitable to disabled workers.
  • OA has re-instated and updated its Human Resources Management Trainee Program in which cohorts complete one-year of training through rotational assignments in different areas of human resources before being assigned to a full-time position.

Total Rewards and Workplace Culture

The Wolf administration has implemented a variety of new benefits programs and policies to enhance retention and improve workplace culture.

  • Paid Parental Leave Policy – Employees are eligible for up to six weeks of paid parental leave to care for a child after a birth, adoption or foster care placement. The new policy is separate from any accrued sick or paid time off that the employee may have earned.
  • Flexible Spending Account Benefit – Employees can enroll in flexible spending accounts to save money on out-of-pocket expenses for health care and/or dependent care.
  • Fair Chance Hiring Policy – This policy removed the criminal history question from most commonwealth employment applications to increase opportunities for individuals with nonviolent criminal records.
  • Employment First Policy – This policy seeks to reduce barriers to competitive integrated employment and increase opportunities for workers with disabilities.
  • Equal Pay Policy – This policy prohibits state agencies from asking applicants about their current or past compensation and makes job duties the primary determinant of compensation.
  • Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Office – Agency EEO programs and staff are now centralized into a single office reporting directly to the Secretary of Administration to improve consistency and visibility.
  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Office – Governor Wolf established a new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Office to lead efforts with state agencies and employers across the commonwealth.
  • Anti-Discrimination Policies – Governor Wolf has issued executive orders to strengthen policies prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression; Executive Order 2016-05 – Contract Compliance and Executive Order 2021-04 Prohibition of Sexual Harassment in the Commonwealth
  • Minimum Wage – Governor Wolf continues to increase the minimum wage for commonwealth employees, which is currently $12.00 per hour, with the goal of paying $15.00 per hour by 2024.
  • Lean Process Improvement – The commonwealth is using techniques pioneered by the private sector to engage employees in the continuous improvement of programs and service delivery.
  • Employee Engagement – Employees are surveyed twice a year to gauge how satisfied they are with working for the commonwealth, based upon their willingness to recommend working for the commonwealth to others.

About the Survey

Statista surveyed 20,000 workers with less than 10 years of professional experience working for businesses with at least 1,000 employees. All the surveys were anonymous, allowing participants to openly share their opinions. The respondents were asked to rate their employers on a variety of criteria, including safety of work environment, competitiveness of compensation, opportunities for advancement, effectiveness of diversity and inclusion efforts and company image. Statista then asked respondents how likely they would be to recommend their employer to others, and to nominate organizations outside of their own.

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