Zara McDonald

Apprentice Progression of the Year, 2022

Zara McDonald

Operation Department Manager Apprentice, 40-year-old Zara McDonald, is awarded ‘Apprentice Progression of the Year 2022’    

Zara has shown remarkable progress during her apprenticeship, and this award is given to recognise and celebrate her achievements. 

Zara was working as a Service Manager for the Children’s Society when she came to Central YMCA, looking for an apprenticeship to help her progress to the next stage in her career. She wanted to improve and develop her leadership skills, so decided on a Level 5 Operation Department Manager Apprenticeship.   

Overcoming Challenges  

Zara had not enjoyed maths since she was at school, which caused her to struggle in exams until she left college. However, she never lost her motivation to succeed, and continued to stay focussed. She was pleased to pass her Maths Functional Skills at Central YMCA, which she labels “a massive achievement”. 

Making Progress 

Zara has thrived in the apprenticeship’s structure of learning within a work environment; striking a good balance between digesting theory and practically applying it. She says the course has given her greater confidence, courage, direction, and a better understanding of leadership – skills which she has not only used to develop her own career, but to become a better teacher and leader to others. Zara’s “amazing and supportive tutor” Maureen, with whom she developed a strong relationship and who she lists as the highlight of the course, noticed these big improvements and nominated her for this award. In Zara’s words:  

"I would recommend an apprenticeship to other people because I think in terms of learning and development, it’s a fantastic opportunity. I’m very thankful for the experience."

When she heard that she had won this award, Zara was having a bad day and was waiting for things to look up - she describes feeling a mixture of shock and happiness!  

Moving Forward 

After completing her apprenticeship, Zara will embark on a secondment in a different area of the UK, which will move her closer to senior leadership and, she hopes, advance her career further. The course has provided a basis to widen her managerial skills going forward, envisioning the potential for a Master’s in leadership in the future.  

About Apprenticeships 

Inspired by Zara’s story? Could you benefit from an apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships are for anyone aged between 16 and 65 and can help someone starting their career, wanting a change or looking to upskill in their current job.  Find out more