Age no barrier for award-winning apprentice

Nicole Jones is defying traditional age barriers after embarking on an apprenticeship at 39 years old, working hard to complete a Certificate III in Commercial Cookery at Club Mulwala in regional NSW.

Ms Jones’ remarkable journey is marked not only by her pursuit of a new career but also by being a recipient of the prestigious Bert Evans Scholarship Award - an initiative that supports apprentices and trainees who have shown an aptitude for vocational education and training.

Starting as a mature-aged apprentice, Ms Jones chose not to be discouraged by her age, instead seeing it as an opportunity to bring her life experience and commitment to stand out in her new field.

“Winning the Bert Evans Scholarship came as a surprise so I was incredibly excited, being a busy mum of three it felt great to be given a helping hand,” Ms Jones said, reflecting on her decision to start an apprenticeship later in life.

Ms Jones’ dedication to her apprenticeship is further complemented by the support she receives from VERTO’s Women in Trades team. The team is playing an important role in Ms Jones’ journey, providing mentoring, guidance and support tailored to her unique circumstances.

“Hospitality has always been a passion of mine and something I knew I wanted to do, with the end goal being to utilise the apprenticeship certification to travel around Australia. While I was initially intimidated by a classroom of people younger than me, I found that as a mature-aged student I was more focused,” Ms Jones said.

“VERTO was a great help, and Jack assisted me and made me aware of my options - from scholarships to payments and different pathways, which was a huge help on the path to landing my dream job in a great workplace.”

VERTO's Women in Trades team assists apprentices of all backgrounds in overcoming challenges and reaching their full potential. Whether through mentorship, skill development programs, or networking opportunities, the team is dedicated to fostering a supportive environment for women pursuing careers in both traditional, non-traditional and male-dominated industries.

“According to National Centre for Vocational Education statistics, less than 14 per cent of all Australian apprentices are mature-aged, but Nicole’s a perfect example that you can follow your dream career path no matter how early or late you start,” VERTO CEO Ron Maxwell said.

“Nicole’s journey should encourage others contemplating a career change or considering an apprenticeship to take the leap - with more than 500 options available, there’s something for everyone.”

For more information about VERTO’s range of life-changing employment services, visit or phone 1300 487 386.


VERTO is a community owned, not-for-profit organisation delivering a range of apprenticeship, community support, employment and training services to assist individuals, employers and industries. We can be found in more than 65 locations across New South Wales. For more information, visit