AN overwhelming majority of students and young professionals in Aberdeen will consider quitting the city within the next few years amid ongoing uncertainty over the oil and gas sector.

A new report has found that two-thirds of Granite City residents aged between 16 and 35 continue to worry about its economic future to the extent they believe their futures may lie elsewhere.

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The number of the 'next generation workforce' giving thought to leaving equates to almost a third of the city's total population.

Produced by professional services giant PwC, the study claims 52 per cent of those under 35s interviewed cite uncertainty in oil and gas sector as a reason for potential departure.

But it also found many would happily change their minds and remain put if the city could offer opportunities.

The leader of the city council said the downturn in oil and gas had highlighted the need to diversify, with a push underway to attract new technologies to the area, while the local MP has accused the UK Government of a "lacklustre response" to the economic problems.

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Carried out before the European Referendum, the latest Northern Lights survey quizzed 541 Aberdeen residents, with 67 per cent born outside the city and over half attracted by work or further education.

Around 52 per cent of those under 35 had worked in Aberdeen for less than five years. Perceptions of Aberdeen as having “a real sense of community”, and a “young professional’s city”, as well as it proximity to the outdoors, were cited as the main lures.

But, a massive 67 per cent of the 16 to 35 age bracket intended to move or are considering quitting Aberdeen in the next five years.

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PwC said the findings reinforced the momentum to reenergise the oil and gas sectors and the region, including the importance of investment in industries such as life sciences and tourism.

PwC's Erika Campbell said: “The next generation of the region’s workforce, the people thinking about settling down, having families and making roots, are voicing their concerns with Aberdeen and the local economy.

“What our survey has revealed is that this is a generation who were attracted to Aberdeen for all the right reasons – a sense of community, location and the city being perceived as a place for young professionals, but they now worry if they have a future here or if they’ll send their children to school and university in the city.

“Although this is just one data point in a larger ongoing conversation about the future of Aberdeen, the survey has clearly identified both what the next generation of Aberdeen like about the region, and what developments have to take place to deliver positive change. Now is the time to act, and all of us, as the people of Aberdeen have to do our bit.”

Aberdeen South MP Callum McCaig said: “The SNP Government will continue to invest in the north east and encourage businesses to do likewise.

"It’s time that the UK Government gave something back to a region which they have used as a cash cow for decades. They should be aware that their lacklustre response to the challenges in the North East so far simply isn’t going to cut it.”

Aberdeen City Council leader Jenny Laing added: “The Labour-led administration has committed to a capital investment plan of £516million over the next five years as we recognise that we are competing on a global stage.

"The £250m City Region Deal secured earlier this year is also a huge boost but it is crucial that we continue to explore new technologies, while drawing on the innovation which resides here."