ENERGY distributor Central Networks is developing its own fast-track City and Guilds apprentice scheme with local schools.
The move is part of a push to find 600 engineers to maintain and improve the country's power network, owned by parent company E.ON.
Central is also linking up with universities to offer graduate engineers more work experience and financial support and is forging closer links with schools to publicise the benef its of a career in construction.
Managing director Bob Taylor said: 'So seriously do we view the expected skills gap threat that we've decided to face this head-on and actively encourage young people to consider the profession.
'With a £1.2 billion investment programme to deliver over the next five years, it's essential we find the right people with the right skills.' Central maintains a network of 133,000 km of overhead and underground cables and 97,000 substations.