School-based apprenticeships a cut above for Sydney salon

With support from VERTO, Sydney Salon Owner, Carla Nicolussi, is growing her business through school-based apprenticeships, an innovative model that combines school studies, on-the-job training and vocational education.

 When Ms Nicolussi first took over Adeva - The Art of Beauty, a busy salon based in Blacktown NSW, she looked to build her team through a traditional apprenticeship program, but quickly realised that it wasn’t working for her.

“In the first year of an apprenticeship, especially in beauty, it can be hard to keep young team members motivated, and for me, it just wasn’t working out,” she said.

However, Ms Nicolussi knew she needed to grow and develop a strong team if she wanted her new business to thrive. That’s when VERTO introduced her to a different model, school-based apprenticeships.

These apprenticeships enable students to combine an apprenticeship with their high school studies, from Year 10 onwards. Students work and complete vocational studies part-time, while continuing on at school, allowing them to get a head start on their chosen career path and complete Year 12.

With support from VERTO, Ms Nicolussi found her first school-based apprentice, Anna, who is now in the final year of her apprenticeship. VERTO Consultant, Stephen Morales, helped Ms Nicolussi set up all aspects of the apprenticeship, so she could focus on her business and training her new apprentice.

“The process with VERTO was absolutely seamless and Stephen was very knowledgeable. When you are hiring students who are under 18, there are some specific requirements, additional parties involved and paperwork to be signed off. VERTO coordinated all of this for me, so it was simple,” Ms Nicolussi said.  

Alongside completing her apprenticeship, Anna is now training to become a Salon Manager, a career path she discovered during the course of her apprenticeship. She was also recently recognised as the NSW School Based Apprentice and Trainee of the Year by TAFE NSW, something that came as no surprise to Carla.

“I had no hesitation in nominating Anna – she has been the perfect fit for my business,” she said.

 “Through a school-based apprenticeship, Anna has been able to balance school, TAFE studies and working one day a week in my salon – and this balance has really worked for both of us. It’s been excellent.”

Earlier this year, Carla was considering her next move to grow the business, a challenge in an industry that was heavily impacted by COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions. She once again turned to VERTO, where Mr Morales not only helped Ms Nicolussi find her next school-based apprentice, Keira-Leigh, but also helped her explore government subsidies and incentives.

“As a business owner, especially through these times, every little bit helps. With VERTO helping me to understand the government incentives I could access it made a real difference. I have nothing but positive things to say about VERTO,” Ms Nicolussi said.

Today, Keira-Leigh is several months into her apprenticeship, with Anna as a mentor to guide her through balancing work and studies, and the salon continues to thrive.

“Keira-Leigh is already proving an asset to my business, and we all work so well together.  We’re a close-knit team and I often tell the girls that it is their salon too. We all want to see it grow,” Ms Nicolussi said.

Carla says that being introduced to the School Based Apprenticeship program has changed the way she hires for good.

“Taking on school-based apprentices is one of the best things that I’ve done for my business. It’s been excellent, and I wouldn’t hire any other way now,” she said.

VERTO CEO, Ron Maxwell, said that school-based apprenticeships are a key employment mechanism that supports students to get a head start in their chosen career, while also helping businesses to grow. 

“For students, like Anna and Keira-Leigh, not having to choose between school and starting an apprenticeship is a significant advantage. In Anna’s case, she is on her way to a Salon Manager role and has only recently finished school. That’s a significant head start,” Mr Maxwell said.

“For employers, school-based apprenticeships offer a great alternative to the more traditional apprenticeship model, which will really suit a lot of businesses.

 “There were a number of employment and apprenticeship incentives announced in the 2021-2022 Federal and State Government budgets. Many businesses will be able to make use of this support to take on new apprentices, so it’s worth exploring.”

Whether you are a school student, school leaver, job seeker or employer, VERTO can help you explore your apprenticeship and training options and many potential subsidies.  

To get started, contact VERTO on 1300 4 VERTO (1300 483 786) or visit