Whitehaven’s Mitchell McCombe has taken on a vital role – at the age of 22. His role as Nuclear Sector Development Officer is his first full-time job since leaving university.

Job title: Nuclear Sector Development Officer

Employer: Copeland Borough Council

Age: 22

Where are you from? Whitehaven

Where do you live now? Hillcrest, Whitehaven

Where do you work? Copeland Borough Council offices at the Copeland Centre, Whitehaven

How long have you done this job? Seven months

Take us through a typical day: It is probably best to say that every single day is different. Often my days are spent keeping up to date with government policy and consultations as well as ensuring that our members are informed of any changes or developments both on a local and national front.

Some of this work involves attending meetings, conferences and workshops all over the country and it’s fantastic to have the opportunity to meet people from across the UK.

Currently I’m leading on organising an event that hopes to bring the nuclear sector’s younger generation together to celebrate the industry and look at how we can help shape the future of nuclear. We’ll be benefiting from talks from some of the UK’s industry leaders who’ll be sharing their experience and advice with fellow graduates and young people in the sector.

What do you like most about the job? I am incredibly fortunate to be given the exposure and access to political and industrial leaders so early in my career – which maybe wouldn’t be the case through many typical graduate schemes – and I have had great support from the council’s chief executive, Pat Graham, and my colleagues in the Nuclear and Energy team.

I love the buzz of being able to contribute and take part in work to bring about beneficial change to Copeland and helping to make the borough a better place to live, work and visit.

What do you like least? We have a lot of exciting and enthusiastic ideas but things take time to come to fruition.

Sometimes it’s disappointing to find that often I’m the only young person in the room. I’m passionate about engaging young people and helping them to have a bigger voice on future opportunities in the area and the development of the nuclear sector in West Cumbria.

Why did you want to do this job? It seemed like an interesting opportunity to merge my interests in government and policy affairs with something that matters locally.

I studied geography at university but specialised in political geography, which looks at the inter-relationships between politics, people and places. I’ve always had an avid interest in politics and economic development and this job offered experience in both – in an area of the UK that has a national and international recognition and a reputation for nuclear industry excellence.

What jobs have you done previously? This role is my first full-time job upon graduating from Newcastle University in July 2018. Previously I spent four years as a customer assistant at Morrisons supermarket both in the Whitehaven and Newcastle stores. It was really valuable having a part-time job during my studies because it gave me responsibilities and helped me prepare for the world of full-time work.

What qualifications or experience do you need? You will need a degree in a relevant field and preferably some project management skills. Alongside this you will need to have a keen interest in politics – in particular the works of central government, understanding the duties and roles of local government, and an appreciation for developments happening on the international scene.

It’s also beneficial to have some knowledge of economic development and an understanding of the planning process, this will support the understanding of developments on both the local and national nuclear sites.

What is a typical salary for this job? There isn’t a typical salary as we’re the only local authority in the country with a dedicated nuclear and energy team. The pay scale for my current role is between £26,317 and £33,799.

Any advice for people wanting to get into your profession? It is an exciting and dynamic profession – both the nuclear sector and the political aspects of the role as you can work to bring about change.

My advice is that you should be open, honest, strive for excellence and meet as many people as you can. It’s important that you get to know who’s who in the industry and the influence they have locally and nationally.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my first seven months in the role so far and would encourage anyone graduating this year to consider the opportunities in local government when beginning their career.

People typically think of the obvious choices in the local supply chain when looking to get into my profession but my unique role at Copeland allows me to both develop my career within the nuclear sector whilst gaining valuable opportunities and experience that I wouldn’t have the opportunity to do elsewhere.