From a grad, to a chemical engineer

Josh Whitworth is a chemical engineer who works for the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) in the chemical and process modelling team.

Josh builds simulations of real-life plants – so essentially “building a video-game version of a real nuclear plant to test how it behaves, and compare it to the real thing”.

He is involved in many different projects, and has recently been working with Sellafield Ltd on legacy waste, working with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) on a nuclear innovation programme and working on small modular reactors.

He joined NNL on their graduate programme, after studying maths, chemistry and physics A-levels and completing a master’s in chemical engineering.

Josh previously represented graduates at the NNL’s graduate liaison committee. He’s been “leading a project to restructure that into an early careers committee, to be inclusive of apprentices needs too and give them more formalised roles so people can develop their skills”.

He is looking forward to becoming a subject matter expert in the field, ideally in a technical lead role. He enjoys his job, and likes the fact he is “really making a difference, you’re helping the UK keep the lights on, cleaning up the nuclear legacy and finding new innovations in the industry.”

He was inspired to join Prospect in 2019 after being asked by another rep.

“It’s about making sure everyone is treated fairly in the workplace,” says Josh, “and that is something I’m on board with, so I joined and became a rep myself.”

Josh was recently involved as an interim-branch secretary, and has got involved in several ways to help other members in the workplace. He says: “I’m involved in structuring the committee, and drawing up the communications plan to make sure we’re engaging our members and informing them of the value we add.”

He feels being a member of Prospect has helped him “a lot personally because of the interaction with people [he] wouldn’t normally interact with” – including reps on separate sites, more senior members of staff, and being involved in different working groups.

He feels “there have been a lot of skills that I’ve developed by being a part of Prospect and a union rep that I wouldn’t have got in my day job.”

Josh feels young people should join Prospect because “the way we are working is changing and it’s important we get treated fairly in the workplace.” He says that with the nature of work changing, including increasing demands for people to take work home with them, it’s important to protect a work-life balance.

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