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Understanding Skills

Relevant, reliable and updated information is crucial to help people make the best possible choices and decisions on their employment and learning. This is especially the case where people may move between countries for employment or other types of opportunities. Information can also be crucial for ensuring trust and understanding of skills and qualifications thereby enabling people move more easily whether between country, company or course.

Labour market skills intelligence (LMSI) can offer policy makers relevant, reliable and 'real time' data to assist them to make evidence-based decisions when they have to set priorities or adapt education, employment, and other policy areas to future challenges.

LMSI provides value to other groups of stakeholders, by offering information to:

  • employers to assist them to find the required skills;  
  • education and training institutions to understand the skills required by the labour market and design their curricula accordingly; 
  • career guidance professionals during the provision of advice to individuals for the choice of careers;
  • individuals as they make informed decisions on their prospective careers.

Skills assessment and anticipation activities take place in all EU-28 Member States and respective results are used to inform policy decisions. However, the types of exercises, the processes and actors involved, as well as the way skills intelligence feeds policy making varies significantly across countries.

Sectoral forecasting and insights can support gathering of information about the skills situation in different sectors and anticipate the need for skills in these sectors more effectively.

EU Initiatives on Understanding Skills

Skills Intelligence and Information


Europass is a service to enable individuals communicate their skills, qualifications and experience through the use of standardised documents. The documents are available in 27 languages and support consistent and easier understanding of information across Europe. A proposal to revise the Europass Decision was adopted by the Commission in October 2016. During 2016/17 work will be on-going on modernising Europass so that it includes more relevant information, more tools for self-assessment and the service will also embrace the use of Open Standards to support the easier exchange of information on skills and qualifications.


ESCO (European Skills, Competences, Qualifications and Occupations) is a reference terminology for skills. It can be used to describe skills needed in a specific job, but also skills acquired through formal, non-formal and informal learning.


Whether navigating the first steps towards a career and the world of work, or negotiating ever changing social, work and education environments as adults, guidance services can be a crucial support for people throughout their lives. Guidance services traverse the worlds of employment, education and training and can enable job-seekers, students, adult learners and many more to develop competences to make well informed life decisions on skills, qualifications, opportunities to travel and study abroad, and career development.

The EU Skills Panorama

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

Sectoral Forecasting and Insights

Blueprint for Sectoral Cooperation on Skills

This 'Blueprint for Sectoral Cooperation on Skills' is a framework for cooperation between key stakeholders from business, trade unions, research, education and training institutions, public authorities, etc.) in a given economic sector. The aim is to develop concrete actions on skills to satisfy short and medium term skills needs to support the overall sectoral strategy (e.g. Gear 2030 for the automotive sector).

Sector Skills Alliances

Sector Skills Alliances are transnational projects which aim at tackling skills gaps, by identifying sector specific labour market needs and demand for new skills with regard to one or more occupational profiles, and/or enhancing the responsiveness of initial and continuing VET systems to sector–specific labour market needs.

European Sector Skills Councils

European Sector Skills Councils are designed to anticipate the need for skills in specific sectors more effectively and achieve a better match between skills and labour market needs. These councils aim to support the development of skills governance in each sector and national skills policies.