The European classification of Skills, Competences, Qualifications and Occupations (ESCO) is one concrete implementation of the digital labour market policies put in place by the Commission at European level.
ESCO is meant to be a reference language for employment and education, to create a shared understanding about skills, learning and occupations across borders and languages. It helps to connect people with jobs, education with employment and to analyse information on skills demand.
Through ESCO, the Commission focuses on:
ensuring transparency and comparability of skills and occupations in Europe;
strengthening mobility within the EU;
bridging the gap between education and training systems and the labour market;
enhancing the cooperation of Public Employment Services (PES);
reinforcing skills intelligence in Europe through regular analysis of skills supply (skills possessed by the labour force), skills demand (skills demanded by employers), skills mismatch and skills development. This allows education and training systems to see more clearly what are the skills demanded by the labour market and how they could adapt their curricula to meet those needs.
ESCO is therefore facilitating an interconnected, digital European labour market by supporting 3 main use cases:
- job-matching and job searching;
- career guidance and learning management;
- research and big data analysis of the labour market.
How does ESCO support these use cases?
ESCO improves e-services that match people to jobs by helping public and private employment services and employers to develop more effective electronic labour market services. This saves them time, reduces costs and increases efficiency of their job-matching services.
What is the added-value of ESCO in job-searching and job-matching applications?
- connecting national occupational classifications to exchange labour market information(eg. in the EURES platform )
- recommending occupations and skills to support the creation of job vacancies and CVs
- classifying job vacancies in job portals and improving search results when looking for a job
- enhancing matching algorithms based on natural language processing
- visualising relevant skills in a skills hierarchy
- creating a skills map of workers within an organisation and matching them with new projects based on their skills
Education and training systems need to keep pace with job market needs. Moreover, the differences between Member States’ systems make it difficult for employers to identify the skills and qualifications an individual has obtained in another EU country. ESCO seeks to bridge this communication gap between the education and training institutions and labour market actors by making skills and qualifications visible and comparable at EU level.
What is the added-value of ESCO in connecting labour market with education and training?
- supporting transparency, analysis and comparability of skills contained in the content of qualifications and learning opportunities
- facilitating the formulation of learning outcomes through a standard vocabulary
- enabling evidence-based curricula reforms through better skills intelligence coming from the labour market
- enhancing personalised digital career guidance services through tailored recommendations of courses based on skills gap analysis and desired career path
- creation of skills assessments and psycometric tests
- endorsement and visualisation of informal/non-formal learning via open badges
The use of ESCO in Open Badges
Open Badges can align to ESCO by linking to a standard terminology for the skills of learners, as an additional quality measure to support the recognition of informal and non-formal learning achievements.
Learning providers can use ESCO to describe the skills developed in any given learning experience – online or offline - and award an Open Badge in recognition of that particular achievement. The badges can then be curated and displayed in e-portofolios and eventually shared with employers and other third-parties as verifiable records of learning.
- Open Badges can use ESCO to digitally describe skills, qualifications and learning achievements of individuals,
- ESCO can improve the interpretation of skills and qualifications across digital platforms – like job portals, Human Resources Management systems - leveraging the interoperability of open badges,
- ESCO can also support the transition from education to work, as a common European reference framework when describing skills, competences and qualifications in Open Badges and job advertisements,
- ESCO is increasingly being implemented in digital credentialing systems like
For a more comprehensive update on the status of the uptake of ESCO and Open Badges, please refer to IMS Global website; alternatively, you can get in touch with the ESCO support team at EMPL-ESCO-SECRETARIAT@ec.europa.eu. by the ESCO Maintenance Committee member, Simone Ravaioli. For specific questions about Open Badges, please consult the
ESCO facilitates the collection and analysis of skills and occupational intelligence by serving as the core taxonomy for extracting and analysing data such as online job vacancies, CVs and qualifications. In combination with technologies such as as machine learning, ESCO helps to identify skills and occupational trends in the EU.
What is the added-value of ESCO in the analysis of labour market data?
- underpinning the extraction and classification of data on skills and occupations from a variety of sources such as online job vacancies, CVs and qualifications
- facilitating the statistical analysis and visualisation of emerging skills and occupational trends across countries, sectors and regions
- supporting upskilling and reskilling due to the analysis and visualisation of similar career paths based on skills transferability
- assisting in the assessment of career paths of graduates and their skills mismatches
- facilitating the analysis of skills shortages and surpluses