The general question
Do older people (> 40 years) who have successfully retrained as developers stand any chance to be interviewed for junior level positions, and if so, how do they maximize their chances?
Background to this question
Over the last few years I've been helping an acquaintance learn software development and programming, specifically C/C++ development. He has a pretty solid background in science and has had experience programming in a domain-specific language, so it wasn't too much of a stretch for him to learn. He has come to a point where I would consider him a good hire for an entry-level software development position, and I'm sure he would do very well.
The catch is that this guy is 45-50 years old, with a masters in Mathmatics. He had been made redundant from his previous job which was in a very specialized field. It would be almost impossible for him to find a similar job in the UK, and he's not really willing/able to leave his country.
Over the last few months he's applied for numerous software engineering jobs, but he's never been able to get a single interview. I'm fairly certain he'd do very well if he managed to get an interview, but nobody seems willing to give him a chance.
So my question is, is there any hope for someone in his situation? If so, what can I suggest he do to get interviews from prospective employers, and how can he make his resume more attractive? My only idea at this point is that he start a portfolio of projects, which would showcase his skills, but I'm not sure if this would help.