A Higher Apprenticeship has helped Michelle Gaskell to manage projects to improve forensic science quality standards that have the potential to save police forces, the NHS and charities millions of pounds.
Michelle, 32, from Abergavenny, works as a Quality Specialist in the Forensic Capability Network, part of the National Police Chiefs Council forensic portfolio, where she manages national projects to support the 43 Police Forces across England and Wales.
She managed a national Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) project which demonstrated that forensic consumables remain DNA free up until they are used to recover evidence from victims of sexual assault. Every SARC in England and Wales participated in this project, saving more than £500,000.
Michelle is currently managing a project aimed at changing the regulations governing air flow and acceptable levels of DNA in a forensic medical examination room. “The successful completion of this project will significantly improve the service provided to victims of sexual assault and has the added bonus of making cost savings of millions of pounds.” she explained.
Recognising her outstanding work and commitment to continuous learning, Michelle has been shortlisted for the Higher Apprentice of the Year Award at the prestigious Apprenticeship Awards Cymru 2022. The winners will be announced at a virtual awards ceremony on November 10.
The awards highlight the outstanding achievements, during unprecedented times, of employers, apprentices and work-based learning practitioners.
Highlight of the year for apprentices, employers and work-based learning providers and practitioners, the awards are organised by the Welsh Government and supported by the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW). Headline sponsor for the third year is Openreach.
She has also helped standardise SARC processes across England and Wales and establish a large national network of doctors, SARC managers, DNA scientists, quality experts, police and forensic service providers to improve forensic processes and support services for victims.
To develop her skills, Michelle achieved a Higher Apprenticeship (Level 4) in Project Management through EAL, delivered by ALS Training and provided by South Wales Police, in just seven months instead of the scheduled two years. Simultaneously, she was appointed accreditation project manager for South Wales Police.
She had previously achieved a Higher Apprenticeship (Level 5) in Leadership & Management, a Master of Science (MSc) in Analytical Sciences, Liquid Chromatography Mass Spectrometry from Swansea University and a Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Forensic Science with first class honours from University of South Wales.
Now she is considering studying for a PhD to conduct research to influence changes to forensic science regulations. She hopes to make a difference by supporting the progression of forensic science and the improvement of quality standards.
“I found it challenging completing the Higher Apprenticeship alongside my full-time job,” said Michelle. “However, I found the more I learnt, the more efficient I became in my role and more effective I was at project managing large scale projects.”
Deborah Pendry, Forensic Capability Network Quality Director, said: “The skills Michelle developed by undertaking the Higher Apprenticeship at South Wales Police have no doubt helped her achieve such success in her new role.”
Congratulating Michelle and all the other shortlisted finalists, Economy Minister Vaughan Gething said: “Apprenticeships make a huge contribution to our economy and will be crucial as Wales continues to bounce back from the pandemic.
“They can help futureproof, motivate and diversify a workforce, offering people the chance to gain high-quality vocational skills.
“As part of our Young Person’s Guarantee, the Welsh Government will be investing £366 million over the next three years to deliver 125,000 all-age apprenticeships across Wales during the current term of government.
“We want to increase opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds to develop transferable skills in the workplace and improve their lives. The investment will also help tackle skills shortages and gaps in priority sectors critical to drive productivity and economic growth, supporting our net zero ambitions, the every-day foundational economy and public services.”
The Apprenticeship Programme is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund. For more information about recruiting an apprentice, visit: https://gov.wales/apprenticeships-genius-decision or call 03000 603000.