School-based traineeship has Hollee cooking with gas

From an early age, 18-year-old Hollee Denton loved cooking and being in the kitchen and knew it was the career path for her. Then, in 2020, while in Year 11, she heard about school-based traineeships, and it felt like a fit straight away.

“I already knew I wanted to do something related to cooking, so it made sense to start while doing my HSC to get a head start,” Ms Denton said.

The Taree-based student was introduced to VERTO Vocational Advisor Phillip Mumford, who helped her complete all the formalities for her school-based traineeship with local bowling club, Club Old Bar. 

“Hollee was the perfect candidate for a school-based traineeship. It was obvious that she had a passion for cooking and hospitality and the drive to see it through,” Mr Mumford said.

Ms Denton immediately loved the blend of school work and her traineeship, spending one day a week learning on the job at Club Old Bar.

“I didn’t have to choose between getting my HSC and starting a career, so that was awesome,” Ms Denton said.

“And I loved working at Club Old Bar from the beginning. The work was exciting, the team was incredibly welcoming and I enjoyed going to work.”

Before completing her HSC in 2021, Ms Denton was offered a full-time apprenticeship. When she graduated from high school, VERTO helped Ms Denton formalise the arrangement and embark on a hospitality apprenticeship with the club, where she’s currently studying a Certificate III in Commercial Cookery.

“Most of my friends don’t know what they want to do yet, and here I am on my way to being qualified. Starting while I was at school was the best move - VERTO did all the paperwork for me and it was so easy to get started,” she said.

“If you have a passion and want to make it a career, just go for it! It’s a great way to give yourself a head start.”

VERTO’s Chief Executive Officer, Ron Maxwell, said Hollee is part of a growing cohort choosing vocational educational training (VET) as part of their HSC.

“Hollee is a great example of how school students can pursue a career while completing their studies at the same time,” he said.

“And in a world that moves so quickly, forward-thinking employers are looking for VETs’ combination of on-the-job training and study to build the practical skills they need to thrive into the future.”.

As for what’s next for Ms Denton, the world is at her feet. 

“When I finish my apprenticeship, I’d love to travel the world doing what I love - cooking. Firstly, in London and then maybe some time at a bed n breakfast in the countryside or on the coast,” she said.

Ultimately, though, the Taree born-and-bred apprentice says home is where her heart is.

“I’ll learn all I can around the world, and then I’ll come back home and do something in cooking locally. This is where I want to be,” she said.

For more information about school-based apprenticeships and traineeships, contact VERTO on 1300 4 VERTO (1300 483 786) or visit


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 over 40 locations across the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales and Victoria. For more information, visit