European Skills, Competences, Qualifications and Occupations (ESCO)

ESCO is the multilingual classification of European Skills, Competences, Qualifications and Occupations. The ESCO classification identifies and categorises skills, competences, qualifications and occupations relevant for the European labour market and education and training.

What the aims of ESCO?

The Commission has developed ESCO with the following aims:

  • to improve the communication between the education and training sector and the EU labour market;
  • to support geographical and occupational mobility in Europe;
  • to make data more transparent and easily available for use by various stakeholders, such as public employment services, statistical organisations and education organisations;
  • to facilitate the exchange of data between employers, education providers and job seekers irrespective of language or country;
  • to support evidence-based policy making by enhancing the collection, comparison and dissemination of data in skills intelligence and statistical tools, and enabling better analysis of skills supply and demand in real-time based on big data.

The structure of ESCO

ESCO is organised in three pillars:

  • the occupations pillar;
  • the knowledge, skills and competences pillar;
  • the qualifications pillar.

These three pillars are interrelated with each other. Overall, this three-layered structured approach allows ESCO to organise terminology for the European labour market and the education/training sector in a consistent, transparent and usable way.

Uses of ESCO

The first fully fledged version of ESCO, ESCO version 1.0 (ESCO v1) was launched on 9 October 2017 so October 2018 marked the 1st anniversary of ESCO following its official release. To raise awareness of developments in this first year, the Commission will disseminate testimonial videos illustrating the real-life examples of ESCO in the labour market.

ESCO is being used in a substantial number of IT implementations covering a variety of areas like recruiting, matching skills to jobs and trainings, advertising job vacancies, career planning, documenting and mapping skills and qualifications of jobseekers and analysing the labour market. Coverage includes the public sector (EU and national), the private sector and the academic area.

ESCO updates

Only if ESCO is updated continuously, it will remain fit-for-purpose for the use in various IT applications that deliver high-quality services to end-users. The labour market and the education and training sector are changing permanently. These changes therefore need to be reflected in new versions of the ESCO classification. Updates of ESCO are also occasions to correct any identified mistakes in the classification such as misspellings of the terms, wrong metadata or relationships.