Public losing interest in public service

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WASHINGTON (NBC) - Public service employment include those who serve in the military and government jobs, but what if the newest class of job candidates doesn't want anything to do with it?

"Bring back this sense of civic idealism that you can make a difference," says Steven Olikara. Millennials are shying away from public service. At least that appears to be the trend according to Olikara, a millennial and founding president of the Millennial Action Project. The organization's goal is to bring American politics into a more inclusive and bipartisan age by using the talents of younger generations.

"There's this larger narrative that we have to combat which is that you can't make a difference in public service," says Olikara. "The levels of distrust continue to be high levels. Something like 80 percent of millennials don't trust the government to do the right thing."

Olikara says recruitment and compensation are two huge issues when it comes to incentivizing young people. "There is a systemic problem, we need cultural change and I think the biggest thing I hear all the time is we need to be rewarding talent and rewarding results."

Lawmakers who are not millennials are well aware of this issue, so Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford and North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp held a hearing to examine just that. "We think some of the best missions in the country are in public service, we just need to figure out how we're going to communicate that to millennials," says Sen. Heitkamp.

She says 31 percent of the federal government is eligible for retirement in 2019. She and Lankford agree that a new wave has to come in and soon. Lankford says with long hiring processes, nothing is fast these days. "Now, almost 100 days to be able to hire one federal employee. That's a major problem. Most people aren't going to sit around and wait if they apply for a job even if they want to be able to serve their fellow citizen."

"Hopefully, we can spark some larger public debate around how we can encourage and incentivize," says Olikara.

Among the opportunities young people have is a White House internship program. If you'd like to learn more about the opportunities, visit whitehouse.gov/participate/internships.