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Understanding skills

Reliable information on skills is vital for the following groups:

  • Workers – to make choices on employment and learning, especially when moving between countries, companies or training courses.
  • Policy makers – to make evidence-based decisions when setting priorities or adapting education, employment, and other policy areas to future challenges;
  • Employers – to find people with the required skills;  
  • Education/training institutions – to design curricula that provide the skills required by the labour market;  
  • Career guidance professionals – to advice individuals for the choice of their careers.

EU measures in this field

Standard classification (ESCO)

European Skills, Competences, Occupations and Qualifications is a reference terminology that can be used to describe skills needed in a specific occupation, but also skills acquired through formal, non-formal and informal learning.

Comparability tool (EQF)

The European Qualifications Framework aims at making qualifications more transparent and comparable and so portable across borders – to help workers, learners and employers.

The framework has 8 levels based on learning outcomes and makes it possible to compare all types and levels of qualifications across institutional and national borders.  

Skills intelligence

The EU Skills Panorama is an online tool providing central access to data, information and intelligence on skill needs in occupations, sectors and countries. It also provides information by policy themes. It gives a European perspective on trends for skills supply and demand and skill mismatches, while also giving information about national data and sources. The EU Skills Panorama is managed by CEDEFOP  on behalf of the European Commission.

Sectoral forecasting and skills development

This can be an effective way of anticipating and meeting needs in different sectors. The EU sponsors the following initiatives:

  • Blueprint for Sectoral Cooperation on Skills – sets out specific measures to satisfy short and medium-term skills needs, as part of an overall strategy for a particular sector (e.g. Gear 2030 for automotive).
  • Sector Skills Alliances – transnational projects tackling skills gaps by identifying needs for one or more occupational profiles, and making vocational systems more responsive.

Matching skills and jobs around Europe

  • Europass is an EU service that helps people communicate their skills, qualifications and experience in most European countries, using standardised documents that are available in 27 languages. Following the adoption of the revised Europass Decision in April 2018, the Commission is working on the implementation of the new Decision with EU countries and stakeholders to modernise Europass and offer a more comprehensive service.
  • Guidance services can help job-seekers, students, adult learners and others make well-informed decisions on skills, qualifications, opportunities to travel and study abroad, and career development. Euroguidance is a European network of national resources and information centres which supports lifelong guidance and international mobility.