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Economic-Based Data and Evidence-Based Strategies (Simon Cleary)

Simon Cleary, Economist, BiGGAR Economics

Economic-Based Data and Evidence-Based Strategies CPD workshop

Simon Cleary is an Economist at BiGGAR Economics, an Edinburgh-based consultancy which supports economic growth and social impact by ensuring the best quality socio-economic evidence is available to decision-makers. 

In May 2019, Simon attended the IED’s Economic-Based Data and Evidence-Based Strategies CPD workshop in Leeds. The course introduced developing economic strategy and using data effectively to examine the economic characteristics, strengths and weaknesses of different places. It covered how this intelligence can be used to design bespoke interventions to boost economic growth and productivity through the lens of policy and strategy. 

“The outline learning objectives of the workshop seemed perfect for the professional development path I am on,” said Simon, who joined BiGGAR Economics in 2011. “My particular interest was the logic chain element, how we get from data to strategy, and what does that mean in practice. I was also interested in the sourcing of data and the selection of geographies. Finding reliable local data can be a challenge for all projects and I hoped this course would provide advice on this – my personal learning objectives were definitely met.”

Simon’s job involves the provision of a wide range of economic services, including support in research and design of strategies for authorities and organisations that will increase their economic impact in a given area. Recently this has ranged from modelling and appraising the University of Edinburgh’s contribution to the Edinburgh and South East Scotland Growth Deal and advising energy developers on policies to increase the economic opportunities to communities local to a proposed offshore wind farm. 

“The case studies used by the workshop leader and the discussions with other practitioners were the most stand-out experiences, particularly as they were focused on the learning objectives,” Simon explained. “On my return, I circulated a summary note to my colleagues which contained the key messages and new data sources discussed at the workshop. My colleagues have gone on to use these data sources in evidence gathering for their own projects. Over time, I am sure there will be more opportunities to put this learning into practice.”

Given his expertise in data analysis, quantifying complex economic impacts and presenting findings of economic analysis in a way that is engaging to a wider audience, Simon said he would “definitely recommend” these IED CPD workshops to others in the profession. “The main benefits of these courses are three-fold: 1) The work we do can be quite niche, and it can be difficult to find 100% applicable CPD. The IED courses fit that niche perfectly; 2) The opportunity to informally learn from other practitioners during the discursive elements of the workshop can also be beneficial; and 3) Because it was taught by practitioners, the learning is broader than the initial objectives. For example, the data gathering presentations also provided advice on project planning and management.”