Keynote Speakers

Richard Freeman

Professor, Harvard University

Richard B. Freeman is the Ascherman Chair in Economics at Harvard University. He is currently serving as Faculty co-Director of the Labor and Worklife Program at the Harvard Law School, and is a Senior Research Fellow in Labour Markets at the London School of Economics' Centre for Economic Performance. He directs the Science and Engineering Workforce Project at the National Bureau of Economic Research, and is Co-Director of the Harvard Center for Green Buildings and Cities.

Prof. Freeman received the Mincer Lifetime Achievement Prize from the Society of Labor Economics in 2006. In 2007 he was awarded the IZA Prize in Labor Economics. In 2011 he was appointed Frances Perkins Fellow of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.

Harry Anthony Patrinos

Practice Manager, Education, World Bank

Harry Anthony Patrinos specializes in the economics of education, particularly the returns to schooling, school-based management, demand-side financing and public-private partnerships. He has managed education lending operations and analytical work programs in Argentina, Colombia and Mexico.  He has worked extensively on the socioeconomic status of Indigenous Peoples, and has co-authored two books on this issue, Indigenous Peoples, Poverty and Human Development in Latin America (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006) and Indigenous Peoples, Poverty, and Development (Cambridge, 2014). He has many publications in the academic and policy literature, with more than 50 journal articles. He is co-author of the books: Making Schools Work: New Evidence on Accountability Reforms (World Bank, 2011); The Role and Impact of Public-Private Partnerships in Education (World Bank, 2009); and Decentralized Decision-Making in Schools: The Theory and Evidence on School-Based Management (World Bank, 2009). He has also worked in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and North America. He previously worked as an economist at the Economic Council of Canada.

In his new role as Education Global Practice Manager for the East Asia and Pacific countries, he leads a team of staff based in Washington D.C. and in 10 Asian countries to provide strategic vision and direction, encourage and support innovation in both knowledge work and lending and manages staff to deliver results on the ground.

Mr. Patrinos received his doctorate from the University of Sussex.



Hans Almgren

Director of Education, Swedish National Agency for Education

Hans Almgren came to the Swedish National Agency for education in 2015 and has since been part of the Swedish ReferNet team and of the ET2020 Working Group on School Policy focusing on tackling Early School Leaving. Before working at the Swedish National Agency for Education, Mr Almgren worked for 15 years as a headmaster in Swedish VET at upper secondary level. He holds a degree from the Swedish National School Leadership Training Programme and a Master’s degree in Geography from Rutgers University, New Jersey, USA.

Mark Beatson

Chief Economist, CIPD

Mark Beatson is Chief Economist at the CIPD, the professional association for HR and people development. His role includes leading the CIPD’s labour market analysis and commentary, while also strengthening the CIPD’s ability to lead thinking and influence policy making across the whole spectrum of people management and workplace issues.  Prior to joining CIPD, Mark was an economic consultant and for over 20 years worked as an economist in the UK Civil Service, latterly at Chief Economist/Director level, in a range of Government departments including the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS), the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS), the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and HM Treasury.  Mark is also an Honorary Visiting Professor at the London Guildhall Faculty of Business and Law, London Metropolitan University.

James Bessen

Lecturer, Boston University School of Law

James Bessen, an economist, is Lecturer at Boston University School of Law. He was founder and CEO of a software company that developed the first desktop publishing program during the 1980s. His academic research focuses on innovation and the economic history of technology. His research on the performance of the patent system and the economic effects of patent trolls has been widely cited by policymakers. With Michael J. Meurer, Bessen wrote Patent Failure (Princeton 2008), highlighting the problems caused by poorly defined property rights. His new book, Learning by Doing: The Real Connection Between Innovation, Wages, and Wealth (Yale 2015), looks at history to understand how new technologies affect wages and skills today.

Mara Brugia

Deputy Director, Cedefop

Mara Brugia, Deputy Director of Cedefop since September 2014, was born in Perugia, Italy. Ms Brugia joined Cedefop in 1994 and served as Head of Area from 2004 to 2014.

As Head of Area she managed teams of experts working in European VET policy analysis, the common European tools and principles for education and training, and adult and work-based learning with a specific focus on apprenticeship-type learning.

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.

James Calleja

Director, Cedefop

Mr James Calleja 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 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.

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 on a thesis on education and international relations in the context of Kant’s political philosophy.

A prolific writer, Mr Calleja has published books and articles and has edited various publications. He is the co-author of the Malta Referencing Report of the Malta Qualifications Framework to the EQF and the QF-EHEA.

Bart Cockx

Professor, Ghent University

Bart Cockx obtained an undergraduate degree in economics in 1986 at the KU Leuven and a Master of Science in 1987 at the London School of Economics. In 1992 he defended his PhD at the KULeuven. In 1993 he was appointed as assistant lecturer at the UC Louvain, university at which he was promoted to full professor in 2007. In 2008 he became a research professor at Ghent University. He is currently also associated to diverse research institutes, such as IZA in Bonn, CESifo in Munich and IRES (Université catholique de Louvain). Since 2014 he serves as associate editor of Empirical Economics. His major research interests are labour economics and micro-econometrics. He is specialized in the evaluation of labour market policy and micro-econometric evaluation methods. He has published in journals such as The Review of Economics and Statistics, The Economic Journal, The Journal of The Royal Statistical Society: Series A (Statistics in Society) and The Journal of Public Economics, among other international peer reviewed journals.

Karen Coleman

Moderator, Coleman Communications

The award-winning Irish journalist, Karen Coleman is one of Ireland’s most accomplished journalists who now specialises in European issues. Karen is the Editor of EuroParlRadio which reports on stories from the European Parliament.  A former BBC foreign correspondent, Karen has been covering international affairs for radio and television for over two decades. She has worked for both the public and commercial broadcast industries including a ten-year stint with the BBC.

For many years Karen presented Ireland’s renowned international affairs radio show The Wide Angle on Ireland’s Newstalk radio. An accomplished documentary maker, Karen’s extensive reporting experience has taken her from the grinding poverty of the Gaza Strip to Colombia’s drug terrains. She has won awards for her critically acclaimed radio show and for her documentary work.

Karen is also an entrepreneur. In 2013, she founded Planet Podium www.planetpodium.com that provides conference and event production services including the provision of professional conference moderators. Karen herself has chaired numerous high-level conferences encompassing a wide range of topics from complex EU issues to economic, environmental, health and other topics.

Karen is also a published author. In 2010, her book, “Haunting Cries” was published in Ireland. The book is about the abuse of children in Irish religious institutions. It features true stories of people who were abused as children in these institutions. Along with her journalism work, Karen also lectures in journalism at the National University of Ireland, Galway.

Antonio De Carolis

Director of the Department of VET, Ministry of Education, Children and Youth, Luxembourg

Director of the Department of VET, Ministry of Education, Children and Youth, Luxembourg since 2012.

Before that, Mr De Carolis was the Deputy Director of the same Department in the Ministry from 2006 until 2011.

He is also Member of the Governing Board of Cedefop as a representative of the Luxembourg Government.

Pascaline Descy

Head of Department for Skills and Labour Market, Cedefop

Pascaline Descy, Head of Area Research and Policy Analysis at Cedefop, manages a team of European experts working in VET policy analysis, identifying skill needs in Europe and VET research.

She came to Cedefop in 1997 to develop comparable statistics on VET, lifelong learning and skills in Europe and prepared Key data on vocational education and training, a series run in tandem with Eurostat and the Commission. Since 1998, she has co-authored Cedefop’s Research Reports with Manfred Tessaring. The reports present every three years a comprehensive and critical European overview of VET-relevant socio-economic research, including implications for policy. In recent years, she coordinated Cedefop’s VET research and has investigated the economic and social benefits to education, training and skills. She also contributed to building Cedefop’s internal performance management system.

Prior to joining Cedefop, Pascaline Descy was a researcher at the University of Liège in Belgium, where she was involved in various action research and comparative education projects in the Department of Experimental pedagogy.

Pascaline Descy holds a master’s degree in education science from the University of Liege, Belgium.


Tony Donohoe

Head of Education and Social Policy, Ibec Ireland/BusinessEurope

Tony Donohoe is head of education, social and innovation policy in Ibec, the Irish Business and Employers Confederation.. Following a career in business journalism, he has worked with the Confederation for almost 30 years in a number of roles including publications editor and head of research and information services. He is a member of Ireland’s National Economic and Social Council, the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs, the Labour Market Council, the Apprenticeship Council, Business Europe Social Affairs Committee and the board of the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (CEDEFOP). Ibec is the national voice of Irish business and employers, and is the umbrella body for Ireland’s leading business sector groups and associations.

Detlef Eckert

Director, DG EMPL-Skills, European Commission

Detlef Eckert joined the Directorate General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion of the European Commission in January 2013. As Director for Skills he is responsible for developing and implementing skills related policies, to remove obstacles for job creation and to contribute to European Semester driven reform agenda in Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Italy, Sweden and Denmark.

Under his command, Directorate E will develop and implement the Commission's Skills Agenda to be unveiled in 2016. He is also directly responsible for a number of European tools such as the European Qualification Framework and policy processes related to vocational and educational training (VET) such as the Riga Conclusions.  His Directorate manages the European Social Funds (ESF) and the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD) in the afore mentioned countries, gives policy steer to the VET part of the Erasmus+ programme and operates Microfinance and Social Enterprise Funds under the Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) programme.

Prior to joining DG Employment, he served as Director for Policy Coordination & Strategy and Director for Media and Content in Directorate General CONNNECT (former Information Society - INFSO). In both his functions, he was responsible for designing and developing policies, notably with respect to the Lisbon Strategy.

From 2007 to 2009 he was Senior Advisor to the Director General of DG INFSO.

From 2002 to 2006 he took leave of absence to further his career in the private sector and worked for Microsoft as Director responsible for the implementation of the Trustworthy Computing (TWC) initiative in Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Before 2002, Detlef Eckert was Head of Division responsible for analysis and policy planning in the Directorate General Information Society. There he launched a number of key policy initiatives that contributed to the full liberalisation of the European telecommunications markets in 1998. Other activities included the launch of the eEurope2002 and 2005 Action Plan.
Detlef Eckert joined the European Commission in 1988 as officer for State Aids in the agriculture sector. Before moving to Brussels he worked for the Ministry of Economic Affairs of the Federal State of Bremen (Germany) between 1985-98 where he was responsible for regional policy and restructuring measures.

Born in Germany, Detlef Eckert graduated from the University of Siegen with a degree in Economics. He also obtained a Doctorate in Economics from the same university where he was assistant professor from 1979 until 1985.

Patricia Findlay

Professor, University of Strathclyde

Patricia Findlay is Professor of Work and Employment Relations at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, where she is also Director of the Scottish Centre for Employment Research.  

Her recent research activity has focussed on four related themes:  workplace innovation within a mutual gains framework; job quality and how this can be improved; skills and learning; gender equality; and industrial relations governance.  She is the co-editor (with Warhurst, Carre and Tilly) of Are Bad Jobs Inevitable? Trends, Determinants and Responses to Job Quality in the Twenty-First Century (Palgrave 2012).  

Patricia is currently a member of, and academic adviser to, Scotland’s Fair Work Convention, having previously been a member of the Scottish Government Review Group - Working Together: Progressive Workplace Policies in Scotland.  

She is also a member of the Scottish Government's Innovation Forum. Patricia currently leads the Innovating Works … improving work and workplaces initiative, an industry-facing workplace innovation consortium supporting collaboration in and across Scotland’s workplaces.

Jochen Kluve

Professor, Humboldt University

Jochen Kluve is Professor of Empirical Labor Economics at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Since 2007 he has also been Head of the Berlin Office of RWI, an economics think tank. Previously, he was head of the labor markets unit at RWI. From 2001 until 2003 he worked as lecturer and post-doctoral researcher at the Department of Economics, UC Berkeley. Jochen Kluve studied economics in Heidelberg, Amsterdam and Dublin, and holds a PhD from Universität Heidelberg. He has worked extensively on the evaluation of Active Labor Market Programs, with a focus on youths, as well as other topics in labor policy and methodological issues in impact evaluation. Jochen Kluve has worked on projects and as a consultant for the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the ILO, the German International Cooperation (GIZ), the European Commission, the Governments of Mexico and Colombia, and the German Federal Government. His work has been published e.g. in the Economic Journal, Labour Economics, the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society (Series A), the Journal of Applied Econometrics, and the Journal of Development Effectiveness.

Venetia Koussia

Managing Director, ManpowerGroup Greece

During her longstanding career, Dr Venetia Koussia has acquired senior management positions in companies of various fields, leading them through highly volatile market conditions and emerging socio-economic challenges by creating and implementing sustainable growth strategies.

As the President and Managing Director of ManpowerGroup Greece since 2002, the world’s leader in innovative workforce solutions, she has solidified the company’s reputation in Greece turning it into a valuable partner for esteemed public and private companies and organizations. Moreover, through innovative collaborations with the E.U., she has contributed in developing new successful tools for employment and entrepreneurship.

She devotes her personal time in assisting people to unleash their potential and overcome gender, age or other barriers.

Gilles Lodolo

Chairperson, Education, Training and Employability Committee, CEEMET

French, married with four children, 54, master of engineering in electronics, master of mathematics and MBA ESSEC. Gilles LODOLO has been vice-president of PHILIPS LIGHTING managing outdoor lighting business worldwide, in charge of several R&D and production plants in the world ( 2 billion €). He has also been owner and CEO of a screenprinting company (20m€) he bought out. He joined metal industry branch (UIMM) in France where he is in charge of employment, education and training.


Guillermo Montt

Analyst, OECD Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs

Guillermo Montt is an analyst in the Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs at the OECD. He conducts research on skills and labour markets, focusing on different forms of mismatch, systems to anticipate skill needs and active labour market programmes. He is also currently engaged in OECD’s analyses on The Future of Work and the impact of digitisation, globalisation and demographic change on employment and work. A Chilean national, he worked for three years in the Directorate for Education as an analyst for the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) where he carried out analyses on the organisation of education systems, socio-economic inequities in education and trends in academic performance. He holds a PhD. in sociology from the University of Notre Dame in the United States.

Wolfgang Müller

Managing Director, German Federal Employment Agency

Dr Wolfgang Mueller is the Managing Director for European Affairs at the Bundesagentur fuer Arbeit, the German Federal Employment Agency.

He is the representative of the German Federal Employment Agency in the Board of the European Network of Public Employment Services and in the EURES Management Board. He is member of several Advisory- and High Level Expert-Groups in the area of employment, education and migration.

Before he joined the German Federal Employment Agency he worked for the German Government with the United Nations and NATO.

He holds a MBA and a Ph.D. in Public Management.

Sonia Peressini

Deputy Head of Unit DG EMPL - Skills and Qualifications, European Commission

Sonia Peressini is currently deputy head of unit for skills and qualifications at the Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion of the European Commission. After starting her career as a linguist, she worked in human resources and recruitment for the EU institutions and then moved to the field of education and culture where she mainly dealt with multilingualism policy and skills strategies. She joined Directorate-General for Employment in 2014.

Konstantinos Pouliakas

Expert, Cedefop

Konstantinos Pouliakas is an Expert on Skills and Labour Markets at the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop). He is the agency’s lead researcher on skill mismatch and team leader of Cedefop’s skills governance activities. Konstantinos has designed, managed and analysed the first Cedefop European Skills and Jobs Survey, together with Giovanni Russo. He has been a member of the steering and advisory committees of high profile European Commission projects on skills (e.g. EU Skills Panorama; Bottleneck Occupations in Europe).  He is an author of policy chapters on skills, skill mismatch and long-term unemployment that have appeared in the 2012 and 2015 Employment and Social Developments in Europe reports and in a 2014 World Economic Forum paper. He has represented Cedefop at high-level international conferences on skills and vocational education and training (VET) in Europe and Latin America and has worked in close collaboration with major international organisations (e.g. ILO, OECD, IDB, UNESCO).

Before joining Cedefop he held posts at the University of Aberdeen (UK) and the University of Cyprus and has enjoyed brief stints in policymaking at the Bank of Greece and HM Treasury. He has published widely in peer-reviewed journals of Economics. He holds a Master in Philosophy from the University of Oxford (St. Antony’s College) and a Doctorate in Philosophy from the Scottish Graduate Program in Economics. He is an Honorary Lecturer at the University of Aberdeen Business School and an IZA Research Fellow.

Giovanni Russo

Expert, Cedefop

Giovanni Russo is a labor economist with a strong quantitative background. He has joined Cedefop in 2010.  He has worked on the benefits of VET at micro and macro level and for workers and firms. Recently he has cooperated with the design and the analysis of the Pan European Skills and Jobs Survey.

Before joining Cedefop Giovanni worked at various universities, in Italy (Universities of Trieste and Turin) and in the Netherlands (VU and Utrecht University). Giovanni is a graduate of the University of Trieste and has a PhD in Economics from the VU University of Amsterdam.

Giovanni has published in scientific journals on various topics in labor economics (recruitment, gender differences in labor market outcomes, commuting and regional economics).

Tormod Skjerve

Senior Policy Advisor, Federation of Norwegian Enterprises/Eurochambers

Skjerve is a senior policy advisor in Virke since 1999. He's been working in the field of skills policy for many years, in particular on skills match, lifelong learning strategies, the social partners’ role as stakeholders in education and training systems, and the cooperation between business and academia.
He is representing Virke in several national committees in the fields of skills policy and education and training policy.
He was a senior expert in Cedefop (The European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training) 2006-2009, working particularly on qualifications and the development and implementation strategies of European instruments for LLL, VET in Higher Education and e-Skills.
Skjerve is member of the ESCO Board, the European ECVET-Team, and Eurochambres' People & Skills Committee.

Laurence Smajda

Administrator, Directorate General Internal Policies, European Parliament

Laurence Smajda currently works as Administrator for a parliamentary body in the European Parliament, at the secretariat of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL), where she deals with files related among others to the impact of digitalisation on the labour market.
From 2010 to 2015, she worked as parliamentary research administrator in the policy department for economic and scientific policies, specialising in EMPL matters. She managed many projects in this period following requests from the EMPL Committee, including in 2014, a study on Labour market shortages in the EU and in 2015, a workshop on the Impact of the crisis on skills shortages. Prior to this, Laurence Smajda was parliamentary assistant to a former Vice-President and Member of the European Parliament. She holds a Master in International Relations from UCLouvain, as well as a Master in European Politics and Policies and a Master of European Public Administration from KULeuven and Sciences Po Paris.

Olga Strietska-Ilina

Skills Policies and Systems Specialist, ILO

Ms. Olga Strietska-Ilina leads research and country advice in the field of anticipating and matching skills and jobs in the Employment Policy Department of the International Labour Office (ILO). She is in charge of the technical cooperation programme Skills for Trade and Economic Diversification and coordinates work on identification of skills for green jobs and sustainable development, and skills technology foresights. In 2003-2008, Olga worked for Cedefop in forecasting skill needs; in 1996 and 2003 she was Head of the Czech National Observatory of Employment and Training; and in 1994-95 she was teaching at the Central European University, International Relations Dept. Olga holds Master degrees in Economic and Political Sciences (University of Manchester, UK), Society and Politics (Central European University), and History/Social Anthropology (Moscow State University).

Peter Totterdill

Professor and Executive Director, UK Work Organisation Network

Peter Totterdill is Chief Executive of the UK Work Organisation Network (UKWON), a not-for-profit organisation collaborating with employers’ organisations, trade unions, professional bodies, public agencies and universities committed to developing and disseminating new ways of working. He is a Director of UKWON’s sister company Workplace Innovation Limited, a consultancy specialising in sustainable organisational change through employee involvement and participation. See www.goodworkplaces.net.

A passionate advocate of organisational practices that combine high performance and high quality of working life, Peter’s career as a researcher, policy advisor and consultant has focused on building bridges between academic knowledge and practice. Peter maintains close academic links with universities across the UK and Europe, and especially through his role as Visiting Professor at Kingston University London and Senior Research Fellow at the University of Bath.

Peter is Chair of Muzika Charitable Trust, a charity working with children and adults in Romanian care institutions; a Trustee of Poltimore House, a charity dedicated to restoring a 16th-18th century listed building as a centre for creativity in arts, business and the community; a Non-Executive Director of the Sustainable Transport Collective; and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Jasper van Loo

Expert, Cedefop

Jasper van Loo (1972) is expert at Cedefop, the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training. Jasper holds a master’s degree in economics from Maastricht University and a PhD in social sciences from Utrecht University and has a wide experience in research on skills, skills mismatch and obsolescence, competence analysis and employability. Currently, he works on lifelong learning issues, analyses skill mismatch policies and coordinates Cedefop’s monitoring of vocational education and training policies in Europe. Previously, Jasper worked for an education and labour market research institute in the Netherlands. Jasper has a number of articles and book chapters to his name (on lifelong learning, ageing and skills obsolescence, skill mismatch, workplace diversity and other topics), acts regularly as a reviewer for academic journals and has organised several international events.

Ulrich Walwei

Deputy Director, IAB, Germany

Ulrich Walwei studied economics and completed his doctorate in law and economics at the University of Paderborn (Dr. rer. pol.) where he was research assistant to the Chair of Public Finance, Professor Dr Friedrich Buttler. Dr Ulrich Walwei has been working at IAB since 1988. He was Head of the Research Unit "Growth and Demography" from 1997 to 2007. Since April 2002 he is Deputy Director of the IAB. His research focuses on labour market institutions and non-standard work arrangements.