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The European Commission has launched a multilingual classification of European Skills, Competences, Qualifications and Occupations as a downloadable SKOS thesaurus


ESCO is the multilingual classification of European Skills, Competences, Qualifications and Occupations. It identifies and categorises skills and competences, qualifications and occupations relevant for the EU labour market and education and training, in 22 European languages. The system provides occupational profiles showing the relationships between occupations, skills, competences and qualifications. ESCO has been developed in an open IT format and is available for everyone to use free of charge.

What is the added value of ESCO?

To help bridging the gap between the world of education and training and the labour market, the European Commission is developing ESCO. By introducing a standard terminology for occupations, skills, competences and qualifications ESCO can help education and training systems and the labour market to better identify and manage availability of required skills, competences and qualifications. Its multilingual character facilitates increased international transparency and cooperation in the area of skills and qualifications.

What can ESCO do?
  • Facilitate the dialogue between the labour market and the education/training sector.
  • Allow employment services to exchange relevant labour market information across borders.
  • Facilitate geographical and occupational mobility through semantic interoperability.
  • Boost online and skill-based job-matching.
  • Help employment services in the shift towards a skills and competences-oriented approach.
  • Help describe qualifications in terms of knowledge, skills and competences.
  • Enable the development of innovative career guidance services.
  • Ultimately: getting more people into jobs throughout Europe!
How will ESCO support education and training?

ESCO, as a standardised terminology, will make it easier to describe how occupations, skills, competences and qualifications are linked and interact with each other. The 22 languages of ESCO will facilitate cooperation between countries and will support the mobility of learners between countries and systems.

ESCO developments reflect the on-going shift to learning outcomes currently taking place across Europe. The learning outcomes approach states what a jobseeker knows, understands and is able to do on completion of a learning process. It offers an alternative to the traditionally strong emphasis on learning inputs (where a qualification is judged according to time spent in education, subjects studied and the location of the learning). These learning outcomes are commonly defined in terms of knowledge, skills and competences, thus sharing the basic terminological principles underpinning ESCO. This shared terminological core will facilitate the dialogue between labour market and education and training stakeholders.

The introduction of the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) has been a trigger for a shift to learning outcomes. The linking of national qualifications frameworks (NQF) to the EQF is expected to be completed by 2014, thus signalling that the learning outcomes approach has been broadly accepted as the basis for future European cooperation in the area of education and training. ESCO will complement the EQF and be fully compatible with it.

Search in ESCO: https://ec.europa.eu/esco/advanced-search

Find more information about this initiative at: https://ec.europa.eu/esco/home

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