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Matching skills and competences, occupations and qualifications across europe: introducing esco

Thursday, 28 November 2013
By: Uta

Over the past two years, Skills CFA was part of a group of European skills advisors working on the development of a multilingual classification system to define European Skills and Competences, Qualifications and Occupations. ESCO – European Skills, Competences, Occupations & Qualifications - identifies and categorises skills and competences, qualifications and occupations in 22 European languages. It provides occupational profiles showing which competences and qualifications are relevant for an occupation. ESCO is developed in an open IT format that can be used by third parties' software. It can be accessed through the ESCO portal and is available free of charge to everyone.

By using ESCO, employment services will be able to exchange meaningful information across the European Union. ESCO will make them inter-operable in line with the Interchange of Data between Administrations programme (IDA) and the European Interoperability Framework (EIF). It will enable employment services to match CVs and vacancies across Europe.

This will help people finding the right job more easily and underpin occupational and regional mobility with the result in reducing mismatches between job demand and supply. ESCO can also provide an important terminological tool to education and training stakeholders, notably those involved in the definition and description of learning outcomes in qualifications standards and curricula. Using the ESCO terminology can directly support systems of validation.

The following examples of practical applications illustrate the added value of ESCO:

  • Employers can use ESCO to define the set of skills, competences and qualifications their vacancies require when they are developing a job description.
  • Online job portals can use the vocabulary of ESCO for analysing CVs and job vacancies in the official European languages. The skills/competences pillar of ESCO will allow job matching on the basis of skill sets. Instead of finding job vacancies in a certain occupation, job portals can then find the jobs that best match a jobseeker's individual skill set.
  • ESCO is a European interoperability classification. When linked to national classifications it can be used to exchange information across borders and language barriers. For example, employment services can exchange job vacancies that are written in different languages, interpret them correctly and use them for online job matching.
  • At European level, ESCO provides for a closer matching of jobseekers to jobs through EURES, the European Job Mobility Portal – as well as support individuals in the development of a Europass CV.
  • Learners can use ESCO to build personal skill profiles and to record their learning outcomes in applications.
  • Organisations developing and/or awarding qualifications can use ESCO to express the learning outcomes of their qualifications to reflect emerging skill needs and to facilitate the understanding of their qualifications across borders.

ESCO builds on existing national, regional and sectoral classifications as well as relevant international classifications and standards, such as NACE, ISCED and the EQF.

ESCO is a long-term project that can only be achieved gradually and that requires a pragmatic, step-by-step approach. Phase 1 of the classification system is accessible and free to download from the ESCO Portal


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