1,500 new jobs for Centrica

Centrica announced plans today to create around 1,500 engineering and "green" jobs at British Gas this year as part of a £15bn investment plan.

The firm said the figure included "green collar" roles - such as energy efficiency advisers and windfarm jobs - as well as 1,000 service engineer staff.

Centrica, which said it expects "gradual decline" over time in the use of gas by consumers in the UK, plans to invest over £15bn in offshore wind, nuclear generation, gas production and gas storage by 2020.

"These investments, coupled with an increasing demand for energy efficiency products and services among our residential and business customers, will lead to the creation of around 1,500 new skilled, mainly 'green-collar' jobs in the next year," it said.

The firm said the new engineering jobs would be in the residential servicing division, which provides boiler instillation and maintenance to customers as well as advice on electrical appliances.

A spokesman for Centrica said consumers were increasingly seeking energy advice from these workers.

"We have seen quite a big demand for fuel efficient boilers as people become more conscious to reduce their energy usage," he said.

The remaining 500 roles will include energy efficiency advisers in its business division as well as workers connected with its investment in offshore windfarms and gas production.

It said it planned to combine its British Gas residential, business and services divisions into a single organisation as part of its plans to increase efficiency.

The group is pumping money into storage facilities and energy generation operations as it looks to reduce its exposure to the volatility in wholesale gas prices.

Centrica today announced a £1.2bn investment to convert the Baird gas field in the southern North Sea into the UK's second largest gas storage facility.

Gary Smith, GMB national secretary, welcomed the announcement: "GMB is really positive that a British company is going to champion the creation of green collar jobs.

"Government must ensure that initiatives around making homes more energy efficient support apprenticeships and job creation."

But Unison said the company should go further.

Head of utilities Steve Bloomfield, said: "We welcome the company's investment plans in green energy but they need to do even more if the UK has any real chance of meeting its carbon reduction targets.

"The company also needs to look at how it rewards its own workforce.

"We want to ensure that jobs remain firmly based here in the UK."

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