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The Icelandic public employment service uses ESCO to improve their digital services

ESCO testimonials

The following testimonial is part of a series of interviews conducted by the Commission with ESCO implementers. Their purpose is to shed a light on ESCO strengths and challenges as perceived by implementers, so that current and potential future stakeholders can gain a better knowledge on the use of ESCO.

Tell us a bit more about your institution.

The Directorate of Labour in Iceland  appertains to The Ministry of Social affairs and manages, amongst other things, the employment service for the entire country, the daily handling of the Unemployment Insurance Fund, the Maternity / Paternity Leave and Parental Leave Fund, the Wage Guarantee Fund, as well as numerous other labour market related projects.  

The Directorate of Labour operates eight services centres around the country, where all general services are provided to jobseekers, registration, skill assessment, counselling and resources and job placement as well as cooperation with other service providers on resources and labour market measures. 

Currently we have appr. 6.000 jobseekers active in our services which means 3,2% unemployment. 43% of the jobseekers are non-Icelanders.

How do you leverage ESCO in your services and since when are you using it?

We have been building a completely new system, Galdur, for the Directorate of Labour for the last couple of years and we launched it the 16th of May this year. We implemented ESCO in the Galdur system, but we have not yet been able to include all possibilities that ESCO already provides us with, in the system. Now we only have implemented occupations and two languages, Icelandic and English but little by little we will be adding more languages and the skills packet is due soon.


What were some of the challenges you encountered in implementing ESCO?

The most challenges we have encountered are connected to translation. Icelandic is a very complicated language with complicated grammar rules that we have had to correct. The Directorate of Labour is a small institution and these corrections have called for much manpower which we do not have and therefore these corrections have taken much more time than we assumed in the beginning.

What is the key ingredient in ESCO that made you take the decision to use it in your system?

The three-pillar function of ESCO with occupations, skills, and qualifications and the number of languages provided.

What was the level of acceptance by your partners and other national stakeholders?

Our partners and stakeholders are following the implementation of ESCO and have shown much interest in cooperation when the system will be in full function.

What are some of your recommendations for other stakeholders looking to implement ESCO in their system?

Our main recommendation would be to take all the time needed and to be patient. Implementing a system change takes time and is a complicated task which demands tremendous professionalism.


How has ESCO helped your institution? What are its advantages and disadvantages from your standpoint?

As we just launched the system last May, we are still in the process of implementing ESCO step by step. It is therefore to early to comment on advantages and disadvantages – let’s discuss that next year.



If you are an ESCO implementer and want to share your experience, please get in touch via email at and use our hashtag  #ESCO_EU