“Step Forward!” with Coventry University: The Nationwide Apprenticeship University

“Step Forward!” with Coventry University: The Nationwide Apprenticeship University

Next week sees an exciting development for Coventry University: The Nationwide Apprenticeship University, when our national TV campaign promoting Higher and Degree Apprenticeships goes live.

From Tuesday 25 July ‘Step Forward!’, a 30-second 2D animation, will air across a range of channels. Although this is an animation, we wanted to use the voices of real people to add interest and authenticity, so we asked a group of employers and apprentices if they would lend their voices to the recording.

Nicola Hartley, CEVA

Nicola Hartley, CEVA

As a result Nicola Hartley, CEVA Logistics Senior Vice President of Human Resources UK, Ireland & Nordics and Vaultex Learning and Development Manager Paul Hannon together with Degree Apprentices Rebecca Harris, Scott Wallace and Luke Hughes travelled from various parts of the country to Coventry University to record the soundtrack.

The recording took place in one of the university’s purpose-built radio studios in the Ellen Terry building, a converted Art Deco cinema which is now home to Performing Arts, Media and Music students.  Sitting behind an interview desk with a lapel mic attached to their clothing, each participant spoke several lines which were recorded by director John Gradwell of Toast, the creative agency making the ad.  At the end of the morning session, the group stood around an overhead microphone to say the script’s final words “Like us!” in unison (which turned out to be a bit trickier than it sounds).

At the end of the day, John took the recordings away to edit and match to the animation. The group were warned that their 2D ‘avatars’ may well look nothing like them, and this has turned out to be true in most cases.

The recording of the audio was just one part of the process, which began with a briefing meeting with Toast, following which John produced the first version of the script. This was then refined and sent to Clearcast, the agency which checks all advertisements against the UK Code of Broadcast Advertising to make sure they comply. Fulfilling their role, Clearcast raised a number of queries, which we were able (eventually) to answer to their satisfaction.

The next stage was the production of a ‘tone and style’ board to give an idea of what the visuals, audio and music would be like. Once that was agreed, the animation began, with several ‘work in progress’ updates to make sure we were happy with the way the ad was developing. Finally, the advertisement was finished and sent to Clearcast, who had one more query before passing it as fit for broadcast.

Chartered Manager Degree Apprentices (left to right) Luke Hughes,  Rebecca Harris and Scott Wallace

Chartered Manager Degree Apprentices (left to right) Luke Hughes, Rebecca Harris and Scott Wallace

The different regional accents of the people taking part were a bonus, demonstrating our nationwide reach. However ‘nationwide’ in this context means across England only, and not Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. Apprenticeships are a ‘devolved policy’, which means that authorities in each of the UK nations manage their own apprenticeship programmes. Although Scott is originally from County Down, Northern Ireland, he has now made his home in Warrington, Cheshire to undertake his apprenticeship with Vaultex.

None of the participants had taken part in anything like this before; however Nicola, Paul, Rebecca, Luke and Scott did an absolutely brilliant job. We were particularly impressed with the apprentices’ confidence and self-possession.


Our grateful thanks to all!




Header image credit: Paul Hannon, Vaultex with Toast director John Gradwell