Kenneth Abrahamsson

Adjunct professor in work life sciences; Luleå University of Technology, Department of Business Administration, Technology and Social Sciences, 971 87 Luleå, Sweden.

Senior advisor for the Swedish think tank Global Challenge. Policy fields for Global Challenge are sustainable development, climate change and migration. His advisory role concerns primarily youth to work transition and issues of lifelong learning.

Independent consultant on issues of evaluation, research policies, lifelong learning, ageing and youth policies. Active in non-profit work on research dialogues on popular adult education and civic involvement.

Kenneth Abrahamsson lives in Mälarhöjden, a suburb to the city of Stockholm.

Michael Axmann 

Economist, trainer and trainer of trainers with over 35 years of experience working with students, teachers, trainers, governments, trade unions and employers’ organisations and donors.

He has extensive experience and knowledge in the domain of quality of technical vocational education and training (TVET) delivery, in particular in quality apprenticeship design.

Michael has published on labour market analysis, setting up employment-driven apprenticeship programmes based on demand and needs assessment. He has been involved in TVET curriculum development, teacher training, programme and project identification.

Furthermore, he has managed international projects and has worked in more than 40 countries.

He has been with the Skills and Employability Branch of the ILO in Geneva, Switzerland since April 2010.

Alessandra Biancolini

She holds a degree in Political Sciences and a Master degree in 'European economics, history and policies'. She works as executive officer at ISFOL, a state-owned research institution.

Since 2013 she acts as seconded policy officer at the Italian Ministry of employment supporting the General Direction of Active labour market policies, in charge of implementing apprenticeship and traineeship schemes at national level.

Jeff Bridgford

Dr Jeff Bridgford is a Visiting Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Education and Professional Studies in King’s College London.

After working in higher education institutions in France and the United Kingdom for fifteen years, he became the founding Director of the European Trade Union College (ETUCO), the education and training wing of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), in 1990 and, in addition, the Director of the Association pour la formation européenne des travailleurs aux technologies (AFETT) in 1995.

ETUCO and AFETT created and developed a community of trade union educators throughout Europe, set up a European methodology for trade union education and delivered hundreds of European education activities for the training of trade union officers and representatives.

In 2008 he became Special Adviser to John Monks, the then ETUC General Secretary, and took on responsibilities for policy-making in the area of education and training. He represented the ETUC on a series of EU consultative bodies, notably the Advisory Group of the European Qualifications Framework (EQF).

Lately he has been advising the European Trade Union Confederation, the International Training Centre of the International Labour Organisation and Unionlearn, the education and training department of the Trades Union Congress.

He has written widely on different aspects of trade unionism and industrial relations in Europe and EU VET policy. His latest report, on apprenticeships in Europe, can be downloaded here.

Gema Cavada

Gema Cavada is a former primary teacher who joined the Spanish Ministry of Education as a technical advisor in 2004.

He is currently Head of Service at the Deputy Directorate General for guidance and vocational education and training.

His main area of work and involvement is the internationalisation of education.

Nicholas Fox

The Individual Learning Company works with public authorities to translate skills polices into operational activities through research, development and delivery of innovative projects. Nicholas has worked in vocational education and training on a regional, national and European level with a particular focus on open and distance learning and micro-finance for learning. He was the expert supporting the EU Thematic Working Group on the Financing of Adult Learning. Current European activities include the Erasmus+ FinALE project which is developing Key Indicators for the financing of adult education.

His involvement with apprenticeships includes working for a levy-based sector skills council which supported a network of over 100 apprenticeship group training associations in the road transport sector, as well as a regional training authority responsible for local funding of employer based and college based apprenticeship programmes. Through his restaurant business he has also been a small business employer of an apprentice.

Simonas Gaušas

Simonas Gaušas is a founding partner and research manager at research-based policy advisory provider Visionary Analytics (Lithuania).

Simonas has more than 10 years of experience in policy analysis and evaluation of VET. His apprenticeship-specific experience includes the following current and past assignments:

  • assistance in a cross-national overview of apprenticeships for Cedefop;
  • monitoring and evaluating learning commitment in the campaign on the construction sector for the DG GROW;
  • drafting of the initial action plan on apprenticeship for the Ministry of Education and Science;
  • supporting as, international expert, Thematic Country Reviews (TCRs) on apprenticeships in Italy, Slovenia and Greece and leading country activities for the TCR on apprenticeship in Lithuania for CEDEFOP.

Simonas holds MA in European Public Administration studies from Vilnius University. More information

Oriol Homs Ferret

Oriol Homs Ferret is a research sociologist. General Manager (1989-2012) of the Centre for European Initiatives and Research in the Mediterranean Foundation (CIREM), in Barcelona, Spain. Currently research director of NOTUS.

As a freelance consultant he has collaborated with several governmental bodies in Spain, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Colombia, and international agencies (Cedefop, ETF, Eurofound), and various programmes of the European Commission.

His main research areas are vocational training, employment and labour market and social policy. In this fields he has elaborated and coordinated various studies on which he has published numerous articles and studies.

Malgorzata Kuczera

Malgorzata Kuczera joined the OECD in 2005 and is currently working on issues related to apprenticeship policies such as how to make apprenticeship schemes more attractive to companies and individuals. She is also responsible for the new OECD country specific study of apprenticeship.

Prior to this work, she was responsible for Basic Skills reviews drawing on evidence from The Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC). She reviewed and analysed vocational education and training (VET) both at upper secondary and postsecondary level in many countries around the world. She also worked on issues of equity in education.  

She is the lead author of the report on basic skills in England: Basic Skills for All: A Review of England, Policy Insights from the Survey of Adult Skills, and of many country reviews on vocational education and training. She is a co-author of two comparative reports: Learning for Jobs and Skills Beyond School: Synthesis Report presenting findings and conclusions from the OECD work on VET. Her previous work on equity in education led to the OECD report No More Failures: Ten Steps to Equity in Education of which she is a co-author.

She has an MSc in economics from the University of London, a master degree in international administration from Paris I Sorbonne, and a maser degree in political science from Jagiellonian University in Poland. Malgorzata is Polish.

Patrycja Lipińska

Patrycja Lipińska has worked at the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop) since 2005.

She came to Cedefop to work on policy analysis and report on progress made by EU Member States in implementing European priorities for vocational education and training, agreed within the framework of the Copenhagen process.

Since 2007 she has coordinated research and policy analysis on financing of (vocational) education and training. Her projects focused on demand-side financing of adult learning - cost-sharing approaches, such as training funds, tax-incentives, vouchers, individual learning accounts, loans, training leave and payback clauses. Her current research interest and responsibility lie in the field of governance and financing of apprenticeships.

She holds master degrees in economics from the University of Gdańsk, Poland and the University of Exeter, UK.

Marta Makhoul

Marta Makhoul works for the International Labour Organisation in the Skills Branch of the Employment department.

Her main areas of work are youth employment and vocational education and training, in particular apprenticeship programmes.

At the moment, she is backstopping the second component of the EU-ILO technical cooperation project on quality apprenticeships in Portugal, Spain and Latvia.

Before joining the ILO in 2012, she worked for the European Parliament and the European Commission dealing with labour market analysis, skills development and lifelong learning programmes.

Jörg Markowitsch

He holds a Masters degree and a Ph.D in Humanities and a Masters degree in Science and Technology.

He is founder of 3s Unternehmensberatung and was Managing Director from 2001 until 2008. Before that he was research assistant and later Deputy Managing Director of the Institute for Industrial Research in Vienna. From 2009 to 2010 he was also interim Head of the Department for Continuing Education Research and Educational Management at the Danube University Krems.

His areas of research include: continuing vocational training and skills development; acquisition of competences; skills taxonomies; skills need analyses; European Educational Policy.

Ruta Porniece

Ruta Porniece has been working for the last 6 years at the Latvian Free Trade Union Confederation as employment, education and social issues expert.

Her main duties are to analyse national and EU level policies and to represent interests of trade unions. She also coordinates and provides research in vocational education related projects.

Previous she had worked for the Latvian Ministry of Welfare in  the field of employment and unemployment policy.

She holds a bachelor degree in political science, and a master’s degree in business administration and she is studying law.

Monica Redaelli

Monica Redaelli is a senior researcher at Gruppo CLAS, a public limited company, based in Milan and Rome, that provides research and consulting services in applied economics, regional development, transports and services, analysis and evaluation of development policies, information and statistical systems for economic analysis, human resources and organisation.

Monica Redaelli joined Gruppo CLAS in 1994, after a more than three-year working period in Luxembourg assigned to Eurostat as researcher in economics and statistics.

Today at Gruppo CLAS, she carries out research and provides technical assistance to public bodies related to implementing operational programmes co-financed by EU funds.

Her expertise is in labour market analysis and more specifically in analysing employment trends, occupations and skills, employment services, information systems for labour market analysis, schemes and policies for the transition from school to work.

Lisa Rustico

Lisa Rustico works at the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop) since 2015. As an expert of the Department of Learning and Employability she is involved in projects on apprenticeships and work-based learning.

She holds a Doctoral degree in educational sciences and labour law from the University of Bergamo, Italy, for the purpose of which she carried out research on apprenticeships at Cambridge King’s College, UK.

Before joining Cedefop she was working in Italy at the University of Milan, carrying out comparative research on labour market and employment relations at the “Work, Training and Welfare” centre. She also collaborated with the technical agency for active labour market policies of the Italian Ministry of Employment in the area of school-to-work transitions. She has worked as an independent expert for universities, private research centres, and international organisations on topics such as the school-to-work transition, apprenticeships, skills and the labour market.

Guillem Salvans

Senior project manager on Fundación Bertelsmann.  Guillem Salvans is team leader of the project 'Alianza para la FP dual'.

The Bertelsmann Foundation, together with the Princess of Girona Foundation, the CEOE-CEPYME (Spanish Confederation of Employers’ Organisations-Spanish Confederation of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises) and the Spanish Chamber of Commerce, has promoted a state-wide network of companies, educational centres and institutions committed to the development of a high-quality dual VET system in Spain under the banner 'Alianza para la FP Dual' (Alliance for Dual Vocational Training).

To date, 105 companies have joined the Alliance and around 40 more are in the process of joining.

João Santos

João Santos is Deputy Head of Unit in the Directorate General for Employment, Social Affairs, and Inclusion at the European Commission in Brussels. The Unit is responsible for vocational training, apprenticeships and adult education, as well as for the Erasmus programme in these policy fields.

From 2009 to 2013 he was posted at the EU Delegation to China and Mongolia as a diplomatic Counsellor dealing with bilateral trade and investment issues.

He had previously worked at the Directorate general for Employment and Social Affairs. As the coordinator of a geographical desk, he was involved in negotiations on EU structural polices supported by the European Social Fund. His responsibilities included the Employment chapter of the Lisbon Strategy for growth and jobs, and the Strategy on Social Protection and Social Inclusion. In the same DG he worked on international relations covering the employment and social affairs dimension of the EU bilateral cooperation with China, the USA, and Canada, as well as on multilateral cooperation within the United Nations framework, on issues related to the Social Dimension of Globalization and the Decent work Agenda.

Norbert Schöbel

Norbert Schöbel, born 1961 in Munich, studied both political sciences and business management.

He started his professional career in Brussels as parliamentary assistant in the European Parliament. He then worked for the representation of Rhineland-Palatinate in Brussels and several years for the Committee of the Regions before joining the European Commission in 2002.

Since then he was active in different Commission services, particularly in the Directorate-General Education and Culture, first as policy officer in  education, then as Head of Sector for interinstitutional relations.

In July 2011, he joined the Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion where he coordinated the work of sectoral social dialogue at EU level.

Since July 2014 he is in charge of work-based learning and apprenticeships and recently he became Team leader 'Skills for the Young', which also includes the work related to the 'European Alliance for Apprenticeships'.  

Hampus Strömberg

Hampus Strömberg has a masters degree in political science, including economics and statistics.

He has a background from both, the Swedish National Agency for Education and the Swedish Schools Inspectorate where he worked with statistical analysis and inspection methods.

The last 4 years he has worked with upper secondary schools and adult education at the Ministry for Education and Research focusing on financing education and government funding on a strategic level.

Inta Šusta

Current position: Deputy Director on Vocational Education and International  Co-operation, Education department, Ministry of Education and Science of Latvia

She started as an architect in regional planning, then her career turned towards strategic business planning and financial management. She worked in different business sectors, such as aviation, steel and furniture production, postal services and advised the Latvian business society on EU and international matters.

During the first programme period of the EU funding, she worked in the Ministry of Finance of Latvia supervising implementation of the EU Cohesion funding.

The Ministry of Education and Science of Latvia has defined vocational education as one of the strategic priorities. Knowledge and experience, both of business sector and of public service, are helping to develop recognition and quality of vocational education in Latvia.

Douglas Thompson

Douglas Thompson is an experienced economics consultant for Sociedade Portuguesa de Inovação (SPI), having joined SPI and been located in Porto since 2004, and has advised numerous private sector and public sector clients in a range of industries around the world.

He is responsible for developing and implementing SPI’s international strategy, which includes projects for institutions such as the European Commission (for a range of DGs) and International Development Agencies (such as the World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank - IADB, USAID).

His Portuguese-based experience has been provided for national and regional authorities, as well as research and innovation organizations.

Douglas has strong knowledge and experience of implementing support programme evaluations - including for the European Commission and Portuguese authorities.

He gained in-depth experience in international research collaboration and establishment of partnerships with universities and research institutes, contributing with his expertise to project management in Europe, Africa and Asia. He has contributed to the elaboration of several policy recommendation focused assignments.

Douglas is a native English speaker based in Portugal.

Clemens Wieland

Clemens Wieland is a Senior Project Manager at the Bertelsmann Foundation, where he has worked since 1999.

He heads a team that works on vocational education and training (VET), job orientation and school-to-work-transition.

His current activities include advising VET policy reform processes in Germany, chairing various debates on the subject, as well as contributing to international exchange and research on VET reform.

He studied economics in Tübingen, Germany and Bilbao, Spain. He is a Certified Transactional Analyst (CTA).

Helmuth Zelloth

Strategic project leader on ‘VET provision and quality’ and senior specialist in VET policies and systems at the European Training Foundation (ETF), Turin.

ETF’s mission is to help transition and developing countries to harness the potential of their human capital through the reform of education, training and labour market systems in the context of the EU's external relations policy.

His work focuses on VET policies, career guidance, work-based learning and apprenticeships. He has led at ETF various ‘Communities of Practice’, among them on ‘Transition from education to work’, ‘Learning context matters’ and ‘Learning and Teaching in VET’. He gained international experience in over 50 countries, ranging from field work, peer reviews, project and programme design, assessments, key notes at national and international events, and publications.

He authored several country monographs and analyses on VET, including a comparative analysis of VET in the Eastern Neighbourhood Region. He co-authored the International Memorandum for Apprenticeships. On career guidance, he co-ordinated several regional/cross-country policy reviews, provided policy advice and authored policy papers addressed to governments (i.e. Turkey, Serbia, Kosovo, Jordan and Egypt). In Egypt, he recently led an assessment of the EU Education Sector Policy Support Programme (ESPSP) and contributed to the OECD/World Bank review of education policy.

Prior to joining ETF he worked in Austria as Head of a European Information Centre for rural areas, Project Director of a business cluster (public-private partnership) in urban infrastructure and environmental technologies, as high-school teacher and as Specialist in VET and adult education at the Chamber of Agriculture.

He holds a master degree in philosophy, psychology and pedagogy, and geography with economic focus from the University for Educational Sciences in Klagenfurt/Austria.