Tonicha tried to find other ways she could gain experience and stumbled across the apprenticeship programme at Eurofins. “I moved from Chorley – a tiny town in the middle of nowhere – to London, just for this apprenticeship, because it was an opportunity that I had never heard of and couldn't say no to. I'd never been to London before, I didn't know anyone, I didn't really have any savings... Part of me thought it might go dreadfully wrong but three years down the line I have a job that I love that there are no limits to.”
Tonicha has been pushing boundaries from the moment she set foot in Eurofins. “I'd seen from the start that I wanted to become a forensic reporting scientist. I remember on my first day, walking through one of the laboratories and seeing a mass of scientists working on evidence. It was at that moment that I thought 'I want to be what they are'. But for that sort of role I was told you'd need a degree. It didn't matter what form of science it was, but it was the degree that was necessary.
“So from the get go I was told that it wouldn't be possible via the apprenticeship. But towards the end, I had discussions with some of the management. We were talking about how well the apprenticeship had gone and they asked me what I wanted to do.
Now, three years down the line, I have a job that I love that there are no limits to
That was when they said, ‘well we've tried to push the limits throughout the apprenticeship, so let's see if it's possible to have a Reporting Scientist who doesn't have a degree.’”
Tonicha and her managers constructed a training plan for her to follow. “It was a lot more in-depth than the normal training route that's taken. I can completely appreciate why the degree was necessary for the role, because the person that writes the report and does all of the analysis has to stand up as an individual when it comes to court. You have to show why, in court, they can rely on you, as an individual, analysing that evidence. If I were to turn up to court with a statement that says my experience and qualifications go as high as having a BTEC and an NVQ, that could be an area targeted as a weakness.
“For each area I spent twice, maybe even three times the time training, to make sure I knew everything in as much depth as I could, so that if it did come to the situation in court with the barrister focusing on my qualifications, then I could explain that I've done much more in-depth training.”