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CVER Research Team



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Prof Sandra McNally

Prof Sandra McNally is the Director of the Centre for Vocational Education Research and is based at the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics (LSE). Sandra also leads the Education and Skills Programme at CEP and is a Professor of Economics at University of Surrey.

Her expertise lies in the economics of education and she has considerable experience of evaluating programme interventions using both non-experimental and experimental methods. Recent work includes research on the effects of school resources on student outcomes and the role of careers-related information on students' attitudes to future educational decisions. Sandra is an adviser to different government departments and gives regular presentations to policy-makers. She is Co-Editor of the Economics of Education Review and member of the ESRC Peer Review College.

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Working with Sandra at LSE
Dr Jenifer Ruiz-Valenzuela
Claudia Hupkau
Dr Hilary Steedman
Chiara Cavaglia
Camille Terrier
Guglielmo Ventura

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Dr Gavan Conlon

Dr Gavan Conlon is a Partner at London Economics. He has an extensive understanding of economics of vocational education and training having spent the last two decades researching the area using quantitative analysis.

Gavan has provided expert evidence to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) Select Committee enquiry into higher education fees and funding and is an OECD expert on methodologies for assessing the economic impact associated with education and skills proficiencies. He is also a named Research Associate at the UK Commission for Employment and Skills; a technical advisor to the BIS and HM Treasury on the valuation of income contingent student loans and has provided advice to BIS on data matching across the public sector. He also provides specialist advice to the Department of Education on evaluation methodologies and cost-benefit and cost-effectiveness analysis.

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Working with Gavan at London Economics
Pietro Patrignani
Rohit Ladher
Marguerita Lane
Dr Annette Harms
Daniel Herr
Sophie Hedges


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Prof Steven McIntosh

Prof Steven McIntosh is a member of the Department of Economics at the University of Sheffield. He is an applied labour economist, with a particular focus on education issues and how they relate to labour market outcomes.

Steven has produced a large body of work looking at the wage returns and rates of return to qualifications, particularly vocational qualifications and apprenticeships. A second body of research has considered the match between the demand for and supply of skills, and the extent to which employees work in jobs appropriate for their skills and abilities. This work has looked at the wage effects of being in mismatched employment, but also tried to establish the reasons why an individual ends up in mismatched employment.

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Working with Steven at the University of Sheffield
Prof Andy Dickerson
Dr Damon Morris
Konstantina Maragkou

Jim Chen



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Dr Stefan Speckesser

Dr Stefan Speckesser is an empirical economist specialising in evaluation methodology, programme and policy impacts and the returns to investments in vocational education. He has been Principal Economist of the Institute for Employment Studies since 2010.

Stefan has an academic background in Applied Econometrics and Political Science and has published extensively on the economics of education and the theory and practice of causal impact assessment. He has been involved in more than 50 applied research projects both in the UK and internationally, with a focus on vocational education research. Recent projects include a study on youth transitions, the evaluation of the Apprenticeship Grant for Employers and the impact of Learning below Level 2 (for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills), the Evaluation of the Youth Contract (for the Department for Education) and the costs of low skills to the European economy (for Cedefop). He has been an advisor to the Home Office and the European Commission and is currently an Analytical Associate to the Department for Education.

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Working with Stefan at the Institute for Employment Studies
Lucia Barbone
Augustin De Coulon
Dr Francisco Gonzalez Carreras
Vahe Nafilyan
Matthew Williams

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Claudia Hupkau

Claudia is research coordinator at the Centre for Vocational Education Research and Research Economist in the Education and Skills Programme at CEP. She is a PhD. Candidate at the Catholic University of Louvain (UCL). Before joining CEP Claudia was part of the Poverty, Resource Equality and Social Policies (PoRESP) programme at the Center for Operations Research and Econometrics in Louvain, Belgium. She has co-authored various policy reports on education in England and educational inequalities among adults for the Social Market Foundation (London). Her research focuses on the economics of education, behavioural economics, the economics of poverty and labour economics. She is currently working on the determinants of access to apprenticeships, trying to understand the role pf pupil, school and geographical characteristics in further education choices. [Claudia is currently on maternity leave.]

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Dr Jenifer Ruiz-Valenzuela

Jenifer received her Phd in Economics from the European University Institute in Florence. She started working at the LSE as a Research Economist in August 2014, in the Education and Skills group. She previously worked as consultant for the Economics directorate of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and as a Junior Economist at the Bank of Spain.

Together with Sandra McNally, she is currently involved in a project that evaluates the effect of small group teaching assistance on reading outcomes at early ages. A second project, joint with Sandra McNally and Stephen Machin, looks at the importance of getting a 'good grade' in core subjects for later educational outcomes. A third project with Claudia Hupkau, looks at the effects of university capacity constraints on student outcomes. As part of her PhD, she has studied the impact of parental job loss and parental job insecurity on the educational outcomes of their offspring.

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Lucia Barbone

Lucia joined the IES as a Research Economist in October 2015 and became a Research Fellow in November 2016. She specialises in applied microeconomics and econometrics, with a wide range of applications on labour, education, and health. Her main interests lie in UK and EU public policy and labour markets, and the impact of non-cognitive skills on economic and social outcomes. At IES, she is part of the Centre for Vocational Education Research (CVER) team, for which she focuses on the estimation of the returns to investment in vocational education.

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Jim Chen

Jim is a PhD student at the University of Sheffield. His research interest is in applied microeconomics, labour economics and the economics of education. He holds an MSc in Economics from the University of Edinburgh and a BSc in Economics from the University of Bath. Jim's PhD work is focused on vocational education and its labour market outcomes.


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Chiara Cavaglia

Chiara joined CVER as research economist in September 2016. Her research at the Centre focuses on vocational education. In particular, she is involved in research projects investigating the labour market outcomes of apprentices, the role of minimum wage, and the implications of apprenticeships in terms of social mobility. Chiara is also a PhD candidate at the University of Essex. Her thesis is about intergenerational mobility and job polarization. 

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Dr Augustin De Coulon

Augustin's main interest is in applied micro-econometrics. He moved to King's in 2009 from the Institute of Education. Previously, he was at Queen Mary, University of London. He studied at the London School of Economics and the University of Geneva, where he obtained his PhD in economics. His PhD work focused on the labour market assimilation of immigrants. Beside immigration, he also works in the fields of the economics of education (basic skills and vocational training) and health economics (risky behaviours).

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Dr Francisco Gonzalez Carreras

Francisco is a Research Economist at the Institute for Employment Studies. He holds an MSc in Economic Development (Distinction) from the University of Glasgow and a PhD in Economics from the University of Sussex. He specialises in quantitative analysis, in particular in impact evaluation methods applied to labour or development economics. He has more than 5 years' experience of teaching quantitative methods, using statistical packages such as R or Stata. He is also used to handling large administrative datasets, such as LFS, APS or EU-SILC. Since joining IES two years ago, he has collaborated in projects for various UK Government departments (BIS, DWP, Welsh Government) and European institutions such as Eurofound.

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Dr Annette Harms

Annette is employed at London Economics as an Economic Consultant after obtaining a PhD in economics from the University of Lausanne in Switzerland. She specialises in labour market economics and behavioural economics. During her PhD, as well as in previous research positions at the Bocconi University and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, she acquired extensive experience in the econometric analysis of large panel data sets, the design of behavioural experiments and randomized controlled trials, as well as in propensity score matching. Her recent work on the impacts of internships on early labour market success has received particular public attention through an invited talk at the European Central Bank and a citation in The Economist.

At London Economics, Annette has recently been involved in report writing for the European Parliament on the integration of the European Single Market, as well as in the design and implementation of behavioural experiments in the insurance and financial sectors. Currently, Annette is working on a project relating to the possible consolidation of the Employer Skills Survey and Employers Perspectives Survey, which will feed into the work being undertaken by London Economics in respect of Project 1.3.

London Economics' webpage

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Sophie Hedges

Sophie is an Economic Analyst at London Economics, working mainly within the Education and Labour Markets team. She is comfortable with a range of econometric techniques and the use of statistical software such as Stata. She is also experienced in working with various UK and EU datasets, from survey data to large-scale administrative datasets such as the National Pupil Database (NPD), the Individualised Learner Record (ILR), and the National Client Caseload Information System (NCCIS). Sophie holds both MSc and BSc degrees in Economics from the University of Sussex, where she specialised mainly in microeconomics with a particular application in labour economics.

London Economics' webpage

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Daniel Herr

Daniel is an Economic Analyst at London Economics. He is involved in all aspects of research including literature reviews, data collection and cleaning, statistical analysis and modelling, as well as report writing. Daniel holds a B.A. in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from the University of York and an M.Phil. in Economics from the University of Cambridge. In addition to his economics knowledge, he has strong technical skills, including programming, data-cleaning and data-manipulation gained by working as a software developer and quality assurance tester for several years prior to joining London Economics.


London Economics' webpage

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Rohit Ladher

Rohit is an Economic Consultant at London Economics. Rohit's main role at London Economics includes detailed quantitative and qualitative analysis using MS Excel, Stata and R, as well as research and the drafting of reports. He has worked on numerous projects requiring an in-depth understanding of advanced econometric methods and techniques. He is currently working on an intensive econometric model assessing the impact of the bite of the NMW on productivity and wage differentials at a sector level for the Low Pay Commission. He also contributed on the previous study assessing the impact of the minimum wage on labour market outcomes for young people since the freeze in the youth rates relative to the adult rate.

London Economics' webpage

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Marguerita Lane

Marguerita is a Senior Economic Consultant at London Economics. She holds a first class honours degree in Economics and Mathematics from Trinity College Dublin and her role at London Economics mainly comprises econometric modelling, statistical analysis and spreadsheet modelling. Marguerita is skilled at using statistical packages (Stata and R) to analyse large and complex data sets. Marguerita has contributed to London Economics' education-related research, including a literature review on productivity spillovers for the Department; and three projects for the Low Pay Commission concerning the level of apprentice pay, assessing the impact of the minimum wage on young people, and assessing the bite of the minimum wage. Marguerita also has extensive experience collecting and analysing national survey data relating to education and the labour market. Marguerita recently conducted the econometric analysis for the OECD using PIACC data to assess the impact of literacy, numeracy and IT skills on labour market performance across the OECD, as well as the econometric analysis of the National Careers Service using the matched ILR-DWP-HMRC data.

London Economics' webpage

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Konstantina Maragkou

Konstantina is a PhD Student at the University of Sheffield whose research is focused on Vocational Education. She holds a BSc degree in Economics from the University of Essex and an MSc degree in Applied Economics and Data Analysis from the University of Essex jointly with the Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER). She is mainly interested in Labour and Education Economic research, including administrative data analysis using applied econometric techniques and quantitative methodologies. The project she is currently working on is principally focused on the decision to enter Vocational Education.

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Dr Damon Morris

Damon recently completed his PhD which was on the subject of wage inequality in the UK and its relationship with firm performance. He is currently involved in a project examining the role of pensions in executive pay as well as working on CVER projects, where current research includes the private returns to vocational qualifications. His research interests are in areas of empirical labour economics, and he is experienced in the analysis of a variety of large scale firm and individual level datasets.

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Vahé Nafilyan

Vahé is a Research Economist at IES. His research interests are in applied labour economics, with a particular focus on vocational education. He is familiar with a wide range of statistical and econometric techniques and is experienced in analysing complex survey and administrative data, having undertaken a number of studies using large scale data for various UK Government departments (BIS, DfE, DWP, Welsh Government) and EU agencies (Eurofound, CEDEFOP, EU Parliament) Prior to joining IES, Vahé worked at the OECD and ONS. He holds a Masters of Research in Quantitative Economics from the Paris School of Economics 

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Dr Pietro Patrignani

Pietro is a Senior Economic Consultant at London Economics, and holds an undergraduate and two postgraduate degrees in economics from the University of Rome and University College London. Pietro has extensive experience in empirical methods, including the collection, manipulation and analysis of international, national and EU data, at both macro and micro levels. Since joining London Economics 6 years ago, Pietro has played a key role in a series of education-related projects requiring complex data management and modelling, the application of various econometric techniques and statistical analysis as well as report drafting. Pietro is an approved researcher at the ONS' Virtual Microdata Laboratory and has extensive experience in working with the ILR and firm-level datasets.

London Economics' webpage

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Camille Terrier

Camille Terrier is a PhD candidate from the Paris School of Economics (PSE), working part time at the CVER. Her PhD work focuses on economics of education and labor economics. One of her papers analysis biases in the grades given by teacher and how it affects pupils' progress and course choice. Camille is also working on teachers' recruitment and teacher's assignment to schools through a centralized allocation mechanism. At CVER, Camille is analysing the effectiveness of principals in FE colleges (with Jenifer Ruiz-Valenzuela) and the impact of new vocational schools openings on students’ enrolment and attainment (with Sandra McNally and Stephen Machin).

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Guglielmo Ventura

Guglielmo is a Research Assistant at the Centre for Vocational Education Research and for the Education and Skills programme at CEP. He holds a Master in Economics of Public Policy from Barcelona Graduate School of Economics. His main research interest is education with particular reference to the effects of education on later life outcomes and inequality.

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Matthew Williams

An economist by training, Matthew has considerable experience and expertise in labour market analysis, at a local, regional and national level and for employers and public bodies, and he is a strong quantitative researcher and skilled in using SPSS to analyse administrative and survey datasets. He also has experience in the work areas of disability and higher education research.

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