ESCO is structured in three pillars:
All three pillars are structured hierarchically and interrelated with each other.
Knowlegde, skills and competences
The skills pillar contains knowledge, skills and competences as well as some group concepts. In ESCO v1 it contains about 13,500 concepts and is not organised in a full hierarchy, but structured through its link to occupations. The transversal knowledge, skills and competences in ESCO v1 are organised hierarchically.
The qualifications pillar allows Member States and awarding bodies to provide data on qualifications which is collected in ESCO. The qualification are structured using the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) and the ISCED Fields of Education and Training 2013.
Relationships between the three pillars
The three pillars of ESCO are interlinked to make visible:
- Which knowledge, skills and competences terms are useful to describe jobs in a specific occupation,
- Which knowledge, skills and competences terms are useful to describe learning outcomes of a qualification,
- Which qualifications Member States consider relevant in the context of a specific occupation.
Between knowledge, skills and competences and occupations
The relationship between knowledge, skills and competences and occupations is defined as "essential" or "optional". "Essential" are those knowledge, skills and competences that are usually required when working in an occupation, independent of the work context or the employer. "Optional" refers to knowledge, skills and competences that may be required or occur when working in an occupation depending on the employer, on the working context or on the country.
Between knowledge, skills and competences and qualifications
In addition to the full learning outcome description, Member States or awarding bodies that provide data on qualifications can indicate which ESCO knowledge, skills and competence concepts are relevant in this context. This semantic annotation creates relationships between the qualifications and the skills pillar.
Between qualifications and occupations
The relationship between qualifications and occupations describes how Member States considered particular qualification or certificate relevant for occupations. It merely reproduces information that is managed and kept on a national level, in case the Member State transmits this information together with data on qualifications. In the course of the ESCO project such relationships are not being created actively.