What is ESCO

Using ESCO

1.What is ESCO?

ESCO (European Skills, Competences, Qualifications and Occupations) is the European multilingual classification of Skills, Competences, Qualifications and Occupations.  

ESCO works as a dictionary, describing, identifying and classifying professional occupations, skills, and qualifications relevant for the EU labour market and education and training.  Those concepts and the relationships between them can be understood by electronic systems, which allows different online platforms to use ESCO for services like matching jobseekers to jobs on the basis of their skills, suggesting trainings to people who want to reskill or upskill etc.

 ESCO provides descriptions of 2942 occupations and 13.485 skills linked to these occupations, translated into 27 languages (all official EU languages plus Icelandic, Norwegian and Arabic). Over time, it will also display the qualifications awarded in the education and training systems from Member States, as well as qualifications issued by private awarding bodies. 

The aim of ESCO is to support job mobility across Europe and therefore a more integrated and efficient labour market, by offering a “common language” on occupations and skills that can be used by different stakeholders on employment and education and training topics. 

ESCO is a European Commission project, run by Directorate General Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion (DG EMPL). It is available in an online portal and can be consulted free of charge. Its first full version (ESCO v1) was published on the 28th of July 2017. The latest version of the classification can be downloaded or retrieved through the ESCO API.

2.Why is ESCO needed?

People change jobs and employers more frequently than in the past, new skills are regularly needed and geographical and occupational mobility is increasing. Online talent platforms, such as job boards and social media, are transforming the way recruitment takes place. Employers and job seekers increasingly use digital tools to publish and apply for job offers or to look for and offer training opportunities. Companies and education and training providers need clear and updated information on skills and qualifications to better manage talent and to address skills gaps on education and training programmes.

ESCO concepts and descriptions can help people to understand:

  • what knowledge and skills are usually required when working in a specific occupation;
  • what knowledge, skills and competences are obtained as a result of a specific qualification;
  • what qualifications are demanded or often requested by employers from those searching for work in a specific occupation.

The use of ESCO concepts can also facilitate the transition to this ever-growing digital labour market, by offering a common “language” on occupations and skills that makes these digital tools communicate and work better together.

3.How can ESCO be used? 

ESCO is used in online applications and platforms

ESCO’s concepts and the relationships between them can be understood by electronic systems. This allows different systems and platforms to use ESCO to suggest the most relevant jobs to jobseekers on the basis of their skills or the most relevant trainings to people who want to reskill or upskill. 

ESCO connects people and jobs

ESCO contains accurate descriptions of occupations and skills that can be used in both drafting job offers and CVs, facilitating comparability and matching. This will support both employers to find the right people for their vacancies and jobseekers to find the right jobs for their skills.

ESCO connects employment to education

The use of ESCO in job offers, research, big data analyses, etc., helps education and training providers to understand what skills the labour markets need. They can then adapt their curricula accordingly to prepare their students better for tomorrow's labour markets. ESCO also helps potential employers to better understand what students have learned. 

ESCO connects labour markets and promotes mobility

ESCO is available in 26 languages, allowing jobseekers and employers to better communicate about skills, training and jobs in any chosen European language. Through its use in the EURES portal and in many other online platforms, it helps European public and private employment services to offer their services across borders, languages and electronic systems, so that they can better support people who want to work in another European country.

4.ESCO’s continuous improvement 

ESCO needs to be continuously improved to remain an added value for the labour market and the education and training systems, as new emerging occupations and skills are regularly requested by employers and changes in curricula and in terminology are also regularly introduced in education and training programmes.  To address these changes it is important to share frequently feedback, suggestions and proposals on how to improve the content and management of the classification with organisations using ESCO and other ESCO stakeholders. 

For this the European Commission has organised several “ESCO community fora” to be regularly in touch with different ESCO stakeholders and gather information from them. These fora are accessible from the Forum page.

5.Know more about ESCO

To discover more about how ESCO can be used, check out our communication materials!