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Cristian Aedo

Cristian Aedo is a Practice Manager for the Global Practice Education. Prior to that he was a Senior Education Economist at the World Bank since 2006. He worked with the Latin America and the Caribbean Education team until 2011 and then he joined the Europe and Central Asia Education team. He is the author of studies on skills and countries skill patterns, and he has led investment loans and development policy lending focused on strengthening human development outcomes through better accountability and skill relevance. Before joining the World Bank, he was professor of economics at the Graduate Program in Economics at the ILADES/Georgetown University and Universidad Alberto Hurtado in Chile; served as the research director of INACAP; and completed numerous articles on social sectors in Latin America and the Caribbean. He holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Minnesota, United States.

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Mara Brugia

Mara Brugia is the Deputy Director of the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop) since September 2014. She has been involved in vocational education and training since she joined Cedefop in 1994.
As Head of Area from 2004-2014, she managed teams of experts working in European VET policy analysis, adult and work-based learning, with a specific focus on apprenticeship-type learning and the European tools for recognition and transparency of qualifications, such as the European Qualifications Framework.
She also served as Acting Deputy Director from November 2012 to October 2013.
Ms Brugia holds a university degree in Economics and a Master’s Degree in Economics, Politics and Law of the European Union.
She is Italian mother tongue (born in Perugia) and is fluent in English, French, Greek and Spanish.

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James Calleja

James Calleja is Director of the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (CEDEFOP). He has been involved in vocational training since 2001. Before his appointment as Director of Cedefop in October 2013, he served as Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education and Employment (2011-2013) in his native country, Malta. In 2005 he was entrusted with the setting up of the Malta Qualifications Council where he served as Chief Executive up to December 2010. In 2009 he also took charge of the National Commission for Higher Education (2009-10). He was in charge of the merger between the two agencies in 2010-2011.
Since 1988 Mr Calleja has held a part-time lecturing position in the Faculty of Education and since 2001 in the Department of International Studies of the University of Malta. In summer 2013 he was promoted to the rank of University Professor.
Mr Calleja is a graduate of the Universities of Malta, Padua (Italy) and Bradford (UK). In the UK he obtained his PhD from the Department of Peace Studies.
In 2001 he was appointed Administrative Director of the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology and in 2004 he moved to the European Training Foundation (ETF) in Turin as Administrator. Prior to these appointments he served in the Foundation for International Studies of the University of Malta (1986-1995), the United Nations International Institute on Ageing (1995-1998) and in the Ministry of Economic Services.

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Paul Downes

Dr. Paul Downes is Director of the Educational Disadvantage Centre, Senior Lecturer in Education (Psychology), Dublin City University. He has been involved in various expert advisory roles for the European Commission in areas of social inequalities, lifelong learning, second chance education and early school leaving, as well as being an advisor to Cedefop on structural indicators for early leaving from VET. A Visiting Research Fellow at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver (2017), he has also been a Visiting Research Fellow at University of Cambridge, Lauterpacht Centre for International Law and a member of the Irish Senate and Parliament Expert Group on early school leaving. Published internationally in areas of psychology, education, law, philosophy, anthropology and social policy, he has given keynote lectures and invited presentations on education in over 25 countries. His books include The Primordial Dance: Diametric and Concentric Spaces in the Unconscious World (2012) and Access to Education in Europe: A Framework and Agenda for System Change (2014). He has led recent reports for the EU Commission on inclusive systems and on school bullying.

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Marie Gitschthaler

Marie Gitschthaler is a Research and Teaching Associate at the Educational Sciences Group at Vienna University of Economics and Business. She is co-author of numerous studies on education and inequality and is specialized in the fields of educational pathways, dropout in education, school development and best practice research in dropout prevention. She is expert partner and consortium member of the project “RESL.eu - Reducing Early School Leaving in Europe”.

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Margo Hoftijzer

Margo Hoftijzer is a Senior Economist at the World Bank’s Education Global Practice. Her current professional focus is on the alignment between education and training supply with current and future labor and skills demand. She provides analytical and operational support to counterparts in Europe and Central Asia, including on identifying key constraints to the effective alignment of skill supply with demand, developing skill demand assessments and forecasting methodologies, TVET reforms, and promoting employer-provided training. In addition, Margo is the World Bank’s representative in the International Advisory Group on TVET. She previously worked on Social Protection and Labor, Education, and Poverty Reduction in the World Bank’s Middle East and North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, and South Asia regions. Prior to the World Bank, she was an Economic Advisor to the High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and a Senior Policy Advisor in the Netherlands Ministry of Economy.

Mountain ViewIrina Jemeljanova

Irina Jemeljanova is an expert in Cedefop since 2005. She worked on the study visits programme (2007-13) and coordinated with the European Commission the Thematic working group on professional development of trainers in vocational education and training (2011-14) working on the guiding principles to improve it. Currently, she is working on teachers and trainers’ professional development, representing Cedefop in the ET2020 Working group on VET with the focus on teachers and trainers, and thematic country review on apprenticeship in Croatia, Cyprus and Slovenia. She coordinated the thematic review in Lithuania (finished in 2015).

Irina holds a degree in the English language and literature from the Latvia University and a Master of Arts in Educational leadership in the American University (Washington, DC, USA). Before joining Cedefop, Irina worked as deputy director of a secondary school in Riga, Latvia, then as a head of unit in the Education System Improvement Project that focused on developing policy analysis capacity in the Ministry of Education and Science of Latvia.

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George Kostakis

George Kostakis is an expert at Cedefop.  He joined Cedefop in 2001 and works on Quality assurance in vocational education and training (VET) and international sectoral qualifications. He is a member of the steering committee of the EQAVET network and supports the European Commission and the Member States in the implementation of the EQAVET Recommendation.  His recent activities focus on synergies between quality assurance and qualifications frameworks. He has recently concluded a study on the quality assurance arrangements that support the certification process in European countries in initial VET. He is now exploring the impact of globalisation on VET content and qualifications.  He also coordinates Cedefop's performance measurement system which measures the impact, efficiency and relevance of Cedefop's work.

Before joining Cedefop he worked 5 years in the European Training Foundation in Turin. He has a Master's degree in Business Administration from Warwick University, UK and a Master's degree in Business Computing from City University, London. He studied Information technology in the University of Athens.

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Mary Kyriazopoulou

Mary Kyriazopoulou works as project manager for the European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education. Her main responsibilities involve project management with the participation of all the Agency member countries, disability studies, vocational education and training issues, early childhood education issues, multicultural diversity issues, policy analysis, involvement in the strengthening of collaboration with the European Commission, the European Parliament and other institutions and organisations.

She has worked as project manager, for the Helios Team of Experts, (Team of Experts of the European Commission; technical assistance for the First, Second (HELIOS I) and Third (HELIOS II) Community Action Programme for the Equalization of Opportunities for and the Integration of Disabled people in Europe, General Directorate of Employment, Industrial Relations and Social Affairs; Actions in favour of Disabled People). Her work involved animation, coordination and management of European networks and projects with the participation of all the Member States.

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Stefanie Ledermaier

Stefanie Ledermaier joined Eurofound in 2014 as a research officer in its Employment Unit. She holds an MA in European Studies from the University of Bath and an MSc in Applied Labour Economics for Development from Sciences Po Paris and the University of Turin jointly delivered at the International Training Centre of the ILO in Turin. Stefanie has more than 5 years of experience in EU labour market research. Prior to joining Eurofound she has worked as a research officer in a research institute in London and gained experience as a trainee at the OECD and the Council of the European Union. Since joining Eurofound she has been involved in various projects focusing on youth employment.

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Pedro Moreno da Fonseca

Pedro Moreno da Fonseca is Cedefop’s Lifelong Guidance expert. Previous to Cedefop he developed EU level work in European policy networks in the fields of employment and guidance. He has developed and managed research in lifelong guidance systems, educational transitions, technological innovation and organisational learning. He has worked in the development of national systems in employment, VET/education, guidance and technological innovation for the Portuguese ministries of education, labour and economics. He holds a PhD in Sociology of Education.

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Ilona Murphy

Ilona Murphy  is a senior consultant in ICF. She is a specialist in education and training policy and has worked on a range of studies, evaluations and technical assignments for the European Commission and its agencies since 2008. Ilona’s main area of expertise are in relation to early leaving from education and training, validation of non-formal and informal learning and Apprenticeship policy. 

Prior to joining ICF, Ilona was Director of Policy and Innovation at the Learning and Skills Council National Office (former funding council) for England and was the national policy lead for Entry to Employment (programme for 16-18 year olds not in education and employment). Prior to this Ilona worked for a Sector Skills Council and was policy lead for Business and Administration Apprenticeships. Ilona holds a Doctorate from the Institute of Education, University of London.

Mountain ViewBecci Newton

Becci Newton has over 15 years’ experience of applied social research and evaluation, and is a recognised expert on a range of topics including: young people’s transitions, particularly within the 14-19 phase; further education and Apprenticeship; and unemployment, inactivity and welfare to work. Cross cutting themes within her research are equality and diversity, social mobility, and overcoming poverty and disadvantage. Becci often manages large-scale, complex research projects and is adept at synthesising evidence from multi-method research studies and devising policy implications and recommendations. She leads process, critical realist and impact evaluations and research as part of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) to provide formative and summative assessments of interventions. Examples of her work include the Evaluation of the Youth Contract for 16-17 year olds in England which incorporated process and impact evaluation using quasi-experimental methods, and the Evaluation of the 18-21 Work Skills Pilot, which used an RCT to establish impact with process and intervention studies providing explanatory information.

Mountain ViewWard Nouwen

Ward Nouwen attained a Master degree in Sociology (cum laude, KULeuven, 2008). He started his academic career as a researcher in a research on segregation in Flemish primary education. Building on this experience, Nouwen participated in research on school careers in secondary education in the same Flemish urban areas. During this period he co-drafted a research proposal that landed a 5 year research grant of the EU 7th Framework Program on reducing early school leaving in Europe (www.resl-eu.org). The project is coordinated in Antwerp and includes 8 other partners in the EU. Nouwen is one of the main researchers in the project and is working on a PhD on (Flemish) vocational education and training in relation to prevention of and compensation for early leaving of education and training. At the moment Nouwen is coordinating an evaluation study of the pilot phase for the new Dual Learning study tracks for the Flemish Ministry of Education and Training.

Mountain ViewAnastasia Pouliou

Anastasia Pouliou is a support expert at Cedefop.  She joined Cedefop in 2015 and works on VET, Qualifications, EU tools and learning outcomes. Her recent activities focus on synergies between EU tools and learning outcomes for education and training as well as the European Qualifications Framework (EQF), based on learning outcomes, particularly at Member States level (development and implementation of national qualifications frameworks). She has supported the recent study on the application of learning outcomes approaches in European countries and she is currently working on the forthcoming European handbook on defining, writing and applying learning outcomes for IVET qualifications. She also contributes to Cedefop’s medium-term priorities and promotes Cedefop’s work on learning outcomes and qualifications related issues, especially in meetings, working groups and conferences.

Before joining Cedefop she worked 3 years as an educational consultant in the Ministry of Education, Research and Religious affairs and 5 years as a head of the European Affairs Unit in the Organisation for Vocational Education and Training. She has performed senior management and national coordination on Europass and Leonardo da Vinci projects and has been a regular member of the European Language Label group of National Juries since 2005. She has a Master's degree in education (M.ed) in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). She studied English language and literature in the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens and has published articles in academic journals.

Mountain ViewIrene Psifidou

Irene Psifidou is the organiser of the present Policy Learning Forum: VET as a solution to leaving education early. She is in charge of Cedefop publications on Leaving education early: putting vocational education and training (VET) centre stage, the 15 new country reports, as well as the design and management of Cedefop’s new VET toolkit for tackling early leaving.

She works for over 15 years as expert on education and training policies. She joined Cedefop in 2004, and she is the main researcher and project manager of Cedefop’s thematic activity focused on VET policies to ensure social inclusion and labour market integration. She is member of high level thematic working groups set up by the European Commission, the European and International Comparative Education Societies. Before joining Cedefop, she worked as education consultant at the World Bank, Washington DC. At the World Bank, she focused on preparation of its strategy on secondary education and managed education development and research projects in transitional Balkan countries. Irene holds a PhD in Comparative Education Policy from the Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona (UAB) in Spain and two M.Sc. diplomas - International Studies and Developmental Cooperation for the Alleviation of Poverty (University of Barcelona) and Applied Linguistics (UAB). Irene has published widely in peer-reviewed academic journals and international handbooks.

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Antonio Ranieri

Antonio Ranieri, Head of Department for Learning and Employability at the European Center for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop), manages a team of European experts working in vocational education and training (VET) policy analysis and research. The mission of the Department is to support the development and the implementation of VET policies aimed at increasing attractiveness, effectiveness and inclusiveness of vocational education and training in EU Member States.
An economist by training, Antonio has taught regional economics at the University of Roma since 2002. As Head of Area at CLES (Centro di ricerche e studi sui problemi del lavoro, dell’economia e dello sviluppo) in Rome, an independent centre of studies on labour market and economic development issues, he coordinated research projects in design, monitoring and evaluation of public investment and policies.

Mountain ViewJari Matti Riiheläinen

Jari Matti Riiheläinen works as a Policy Analyst at the Erasmus+ Policy Support unit at the European Commission's EACEA Executive Agency in Brussels, which coordinates the work of Eurydice Network. He was the main author in the recent Eurydice publication "Support Mechanisms for Evidence-based Policy-Making in Education", which was published in January 2017.  In the Eurydice-unit he has previously researched, among other things, funding of education, entrepreneurship education, and the social dimension of higher education.

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Reinhold Schiffers

Reinhold Schiffers is a memeber of the Board of E2C - The European Association for Cities, Institutions and Second Chance Schools
1975 Teacher, 1985 - 2015 Headmaster of Second Chance School Mönchenglabbach (Weiterbildungskolleg Mönchengladbach)
1978 - today, Teacher Trainer

Mountain ViewJanssen Teixeira

Janssen Teixeira is a Senior Education Specialist at the World Bank’s Education Global Practice, and is currently acting Human Development Program Leader for the World Bank in Central Asia. Mr. Teixeira has in-depth experience in early childhood care and education, basic education and lifelong learning. Recently, Mr. Teixeira has been carrying out analytical work in the areas of early school leaving, lifelong learning, vocational education and training, and learning environments in countries in Europe and Central Asia. Mr. Teixeira has provided analytical and operational support to Governments in Latin America, Europe, and Asia, including Bolivia, Guyana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Moldova, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and East Timor over the past 18 years. Mr. Teixeira holds a Ph.D. in Education policy and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration.
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Daniela Uličná

Daniela Uličná is a Consulting Director at ICF which she joined in 2006. She leads ICF work in the fields of education and training. Since joining ICF, she has been working on assignments for the European Commission and its agencies on EU policies and programmes in the areas of education and training (including learning outside the formal system) and related areas such as employment, gender equality and social inclusion. She acted as project director for Cedefop assignment on the role of VET in addressing early leaving from education and training.

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Patricia Vale

She has been a consultant at ICF International for over three years, working mainly on education and training policies within projects for the European Commission and Cedefop. She has been involved in several assignments concerning Vocational Education and Training (VET) including the three-year project ‘The role of Vocational Education and Training in reducing early school leaving’ for Cedefop, which she project managed in 2016. She is currently managing an assignment on VET graduate tracking measures for the European Commission.

From 2006 to 2013, she worked for the National Centre for Educational Innovation and Research of the Spanish ministry of education, and in 2011 she completed a five-month traineeship at the European Commission. Within the Spanish ministry of education, she was involved in research on education and training policies, concerning all the levels of education. She contributed to the drafting of comparative studies, of Eurydice’s description of national education systems, and of the Spanish contribution to several Eurydice studies. 
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Ann Vanden Bulcke

Ann Vanden Bulcke started working in DG Education and Culture at the European Commission in October 2006 as Programme Country Desk Officer for the Comenius Programme and later on for the Grundtvig programme.

Since 2014, she is working in the VET and Adult Learning unit in DG Employment. Her working areas are: the Education & Training 2020 Working Group on Teachers and Trainers in Work-based learning, follow-up of the study on Teachers & Trainers in Work-based learning – Mapping of best practices and she is in charge of communication matters related to the European Alliance for Apprenticeships. Her educational background is French language teacher.

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Yvonne Vanneste

In 1995, Yvonne Vanneste graduated as a Medical Specialist in Community health and Social Medicine in the field of Child and Youth Health Care at the University Leiden. After developing the MASS intervention (‘Medical Advice for Sick-reported Students’),  in November 2015, Yvonne completed successfully her PhD trajectory at Maastricht University with her thesis: Reported sick from school; a study into addressing medical absenteeism among students, in which she evaluated MASS. She wrote two manuals for addressing medical absenteeism among students according to MASS, one for school staff and one for youth health care services, and developed a MASS training for mentors and youth health care physicians. In 2013, Yvonne received the Flora van Laar Prize for her pioneering and innovative work in the field of Youth Health Care. In January 2015, Yvonne Vanneste was acclaimed the most influential person of public health 2014 by the Dutch Association for Public Health.

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Ernesto Villalba

Ernesto Villalba (@ernvillalba) is an expert at the European Center for the Development of Vocational Education and Training (Cedefop) since 2011, working on European transparency tools and principles. He is main responsible in the area of validation of non-formal and informal learning, where he works together with the Commission in the follow up of the Council Recommendation of 2012 as well as in the updating of the European Inventory and the European Guidelines. During 2012 he worked in the development of the European Skills passport and in a prototype of a tool for recording non-formal and informal learning experiences within the Europass framework. Before joining Cedefop he worked as a scientific officer at the Center for Research on Lifelong Learning (CRELL) at the Joint Research Center of the European Commission, Ispra, Italy. He holds a Ph.D. in International and Comparative Education from Stockholm University. He has served in different committees and working groups of the OECD, UNESCO and the Commission. He is in the editorial board of the Journal of business creativity and the creative economy and an editorial correspondent at the European Journal of Education.

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Elizabeth Watters

Elizabeth Watters has been working as a Senior Specialist in VET policy at the European Training Foundation (ETF) in Turin since 2012. In ETF, Elizabeth is responsible for quality assurance reform in education and training systems. Her work supports related activities in EU partner countries in Southern and Eastern Mediterranean Countries, South Eastern and Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

Elizabeth has thirty years’ experience in the field of EU education, training and youth policy. A former university lecturer and teacher-trainer, she held the post of Director of the National (Ireland) Co-ordination Unit (NCU) with mandates to manage EU Programmes (1988-2000). As an independent expert, she engaged in EU comparative research projects and policy reporting on education and vocational training. (2001-2012).