New Executive Order Boosts Public Service Careers in Pennsylvania: What You Need to Know and Why it Matters

Governor Josh Shapiro signed Executive Order 2024-01Credit: Commonwealth Media Services

HARRISBURG, PA — On Monday, Governor Josh Shapiro of Pennsylvania took a major step towards enhancing the state’s workforce, particularly in the public sector. The Governor signed Executive Order 2024-01, establishing the “Hire, Improve, Recruit, Empower (HIRE) Committee.” The committee’s aim is to expand opportunities for Pennsylvanians seeking a career in public service and establish the state government as the epitome of an ideal workplace.

This groundbreaking action occurred during the Commonwealth Job Fair, a platform where over 40 state agencies showcased around 580 open Commonwealth positions to more than 500 visitors. The event was a call to action for those interested in serving their community through public service.

Public service, as Governor Shapiro highlighted, is a noble profession. However, he acknowledged that more needs to be done to make state government an attractive and competitive employer in the job market. This Executive Order demonstrates a commitment to creating a workforce that reflects the whole of Pennsylvania and is accessible to its residents.

The order is expected to pave the way for more opportunities for Commonwealth employees, while also ensuring the state has a skilled, robust workforce for years to come. Nearly a quarter of the Commonwealth’s workforce is eligible for retirement in the next 5 years. This stark reality calls for aggressive measures to attract the next generation of public servants, fill jobs that are historically hard to recruit for, and truly represent the diversity of Pennsylvania’s residents.

The HIRE Committee, chaired by Secretary of Administration Neil Weaver, will focus on strengthening the state’s recruitment, hiring, development, and retention of high-performing employees. The committee plans to reach younger generations, fill historically hard-to-fill jobs, and ensure that the workforce genuinely represents the state’s residents.

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Secretary Weaver stressed the need to attract the best and brightest to public service to secure a bright future for Pennsylvania. The creation of the HIRE Committee is a strategic move to ensure that the Commonwealth continues to represent its 13 million residents.

“We need to do everything we can right now to attract the best and brightest to public service to lead our Commonwealth into the future. We want to hire Pennsylvanians from all backgrounds, beliefs, and walks of life, so that our workforce continues to represent our 13 million residents,” said Secretary of Administration Neil Weaver.

The committee plans to work in tandem with the Office of Administration (OA) and other Commonwealth agencies to develop a pilot program for financial incentives for employees with proficiency in non-English languages, create recruitment strategies for hard to fill jobs, and expand inclusive and supportive services in state-owned buildings.

Moreover, the Executive Order affirms that the Commonwealth can hire non-U.S. citizens legally authorized to work in the country, a nod to the state’s diverse population.

“With this Executive Order, the Shapiro Administration is letting Pennsylvanians know that our doors are open to everyone,” said Norman Bristol Colón, Commonwealth Chief Diversity Officer. This message is a reassuring nod to the diverse population of Pennsylvania that the state government is making efforts to be more inclusive, accessible, and representative.

Significant labor organizations, AFSCME Council 13 and SEIU Local 668, praised the Governor’s move. Mike Sukal, AFSCME Council 13 Administrator, lauded the action, stating it aligns with the organization’s members’ goals. President of SEIU Local 668, Steve Catanese, echoed Sukal’s sentiments, expressing excitement for more inclusive worksites.

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This move by the Shapiro Administration aims to attract more people seeking public service careers. It is a building stone towards a more inclusive, diverse, and representative Commonwealth workforce, a shift that will echo across Pennsylvania and possibly, the nation.

Often, government policies and actions can seem distantly bureaucratic and detached from everyday life. However, this Executive Order brings the focus back to the public, the people who make up the fabric of the Commonwealth. It underlines the importance of public service and the need to ensure our state government is as diverse, dynamic, and representative as the people it serves.

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