Qualifications are the formal outcome of an assessment and validation process which is obtained when a competent body determines that an individual has achieved learning outcomes to given standards.
Information on qualifications at European level is now displayed in Europass, and comes from databases of national qualifications reflecting the National Qualifications Frameworks that are owned and managed by the European Member States. Europass offers the most up to date and rich repository of high quality data on qualifications, national qualification frameworks and learning opportunities in Europe, helping learners to find a course in another country and employers to grasp the value of a qualification from a different EU Member State.
One of ESCO's main missions is to build stronger bridges between the world of education and training and the world of work, contributing to reduce skill mismatches and supporting the better functioning of the labour market. The vision behind ESCO is the provision of a common reference language that could support transparency, translation, comparison, identification and analysis of the content of a qualification, thus helping to indicate how those relate to the skills and occupations needed across occupations and sectors. ESCO does so in multiple ways.
ESCO supports describing and understanding of learning outcomes of a qualification
A labour market terminology that can help understanding which occupations and skills are related to a particular qualification allows learners, job seekers and employers to best use this information: ESCO fills this need by providing an updated, evidence – based and multilingual skills and occupation vocabulary.
ESCO supports education and training systems in the shift to learning outcomes that serves better the labour market needs. Organisations that provide data on qualifications can use ESCO to annotate learning outcomes descriptions with skills terminology, integrating knowledge, skills and competence concepts that correspond to the learning outcomes description of the qualification. This helps learning institutions to express their learning outcomes in a way that facilitates the understanding of their qualifications by labour market actors and to attract learners from within and across borders.
ESCO is also used to collect and analyse data on skills trends across Europe and exploit the possibilities offered by big data analysis techniques. Results of skills intelligence projects are an important support and source of information to education and training institutions that can help them to develop curricula by taking into account emerging skills needs.
In 2019, the European Commission conducted a pilot project with the Member States in order to test automated linking of learning outcomes of qualifications with ESCO skills in different languages and developed a dedicated IT tool to support national authorities in this exercise. The project demonstrated the value of using the ESCO skills thesaurus to provide transparency of qualifications and better quality of data on individual learning outcomes.
ESCO enhances personalised/digital career guidance services
ESCO skills and occupations can be used to provide jobseekers and learners with tailored suggestions of learning and training opportunities. Digital platforms can use ESCO to provide citizens with information on learning opportunities, suggest courses, develop tailor made training opportunities and recommend learning paths based on people’s skills. Career guidance providers can use ESCO to provide guidance services and recommend adequate training based on the skills set and career aspirations of an individual.
ESCO supports validation of informal and non-formal learning
ESCO can be used for the validation of informal and non-formal learning. The clear and detailed learning outcomes that are provided through ESCO can be used to identify, document, assess and certify the skills and experience that an individual has acquired through informal or non-formal learning.
Organisations can use ESCO to identify the skills developed in a given activity. Furthermore, once the learning activity in a given project is concluded, the learner can receive a form of certification, for instance an open badge, which links the skills of learners with a standard terminology and supports the validation of informal and non-formal learning achievements. The badges can then be displayed in e-portofolios and shared with employers and others as verifiable records of learning.