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Energy giants including Centrica, National Grid, E.ON and EDF Energy are becoming increasingly "frustrated" that too few young people want to become engineers or scientists, which they say will stifle the UK's chances of capitalising on the growth of alternative energy sources, such as wind or solar power.

A survey of 2,000 A level and university students by Centrica, revealed that 55pc would not consider a career in science, technology or energy. Media and entertainment jobs were more desirable, the study showed.  Centrica said the results were a "huge concern" because an estimated 70pc of the UK's current nuclear workforce could be retired by 2025.

Sam Laidlaw, chief executive, said: "The Government plans for 400,000 jobs to be created in UK green industries by 2015. Yet, unless we convince young people of the exciting and rewarding careers available in energy today, the UK will lack the skills to take advantage of the green agenda."

He added: "Ensuring we have the expertise and skills needed to meet the challenges it brings is the responsibility of the industry, the education sector and parents. Working together, we must act urgently to address this impending skills gap as we seek to lead the transition to a low-carbon future."

National Grid agreed the Government should step up efforts to tackle skills shortages in science, technology, engineering and maths. Jon Butterworth, operations director, said: "I am personally worried about the quality and quantity of young people studying … engineering." He added: "National Grid would like to see industry and Government working consistently on a campaign to inspire people to acquire the skills needed to be part of a low-carbon future.

We need to counter stereotypical images that engineering is boring or geeky. We need young people to want to get involved." A number of energy companies contacted agreed. An EDF Energy spokesman said: "It's crucial that we make science, technology and engineering appealing again so the future workforce has the skills needed.

A large part of EDF Energy's recruitment challenge will be in the search for a wide range of engineering, nuclear science and technology skills." Dave Newborough, head of HR at E.ON, said: "We have a huge engineering skills challenge over the coming years." A spokesman for the Department for Education said: "We need to keep pace with businesses' demands so qualifications remain strong and we equip young people with the skills the economy needs."

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