Wolf Administration Welcomes 20 Students with Disabilities for Summer Internship Program
May 22, 2018
Harrisburg, PA – In support of the Employment First initiative to help people with disabilities find employment, the Wolf Administration is welcoming 20 Pennsylvania college students who will participate in summer internships with state agencies, while a first-of-its kind state partnership with Microsoft will promote accessibility best practices and tools.
“Internships are an important way for students to gain experience in their field of study and establish relationships with potential employers,” said Governor Tom Wolf. “This program will provide valuable opportunities in public service to students with disabilities.”
The students will take part in a 12-week paid internship in the Harrisburg area beginning this month. The interns will work in positions related to their academic backgrounds and career interests.
Governor Wolf signed the executive order to establish the Employment First policy in March 2016 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.
The internship program was developed by the Department of Labor and Industry’s (L&I) Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) and the Office of Administration (OA). OVR recruited college students for the inaugural class, while OA facilitated placement within state offices.
“We want to thank the commonwealth’s leaders and supervisors for supporting the disability internship program and welcoming these students for the summer,” said Secretary of Administration Sharon Minnich. “We think it will be an enriching experience for everyone involved.”
OVR provides vocational rehabilitation services to help persons with disabilities prepare for, obtain, or maintain employment. In 2017, the office helped place more than 9,300 OVR customers into employment, and connected with 6,000 Pennsylvania employers to achieve hiring results.
“When it comes to providing employment opportunities to people with disabilities, we need to lead by example,” said L&I Secretary Jerry Oleksiak. “We are excited to work with the Office of Administration to offer this internship program for state government.”
The administration also announced that Pennsylvania is the first state government to partner with Microsoft Corporation to provide training and other resources on accessibility to employees. The training will focus on tools available within Office 365 to make documents and other files accessible to people with disabilities, as well as features that can assist commonwealth employees who are themselves disabled. Employees will also have access to a help desk staffed by accessibility experts to answer questions and provide guidance. These services are being provided at no additional cost to the commonwealth.
“We are incredibly excited about working with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to educate employees on how to be more inclusive and accessible using the built-in tools in Microsoft365,” said Megan Lawrence, Microsoft’s Accessibility Technical Evangelist.