ICT specialists in employment (isoc_skslf)

Reference Metadata in Euro SDMX Metadata Structure (ESMS)

Compiling agency: Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union

Eurostat metadata
Reference metadata
1. Contact
2. Metadata update
3. Statistical presentation
4. Unit of measure
5. Reference Period
6. Institutional Mandate
7. Confidentiality
8. Release policy
9. Frequency of dissemination
10. Accessibility and clarity
11. Quality management
12. Relevance
13. Accuracy
14. Timeliness and punctuality
15. Coherence and comparability
16. Cost and Burden
17. Data revision
18. Statistical processing
19. Comment
Related Metadata
Annexes (including footnotes)

For any question on data and metadata, please contact: EUROPEAN STATISTICAL DATA SUPPORT


1. Contact Top
1.1. Contact organisation

Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union

1.2. Contact organisation unit

G4: Innovation and digitalisation

1.5. Contact mail address

L-2920 Luxembourg

2. Metadata update Top
2.1. Metadata last certified 06/05/2022
2.2. Metadata last posted 06/05/2022
2.3. Metadata last update 06/05/2022

3. Statistical presentation Top
3.1. Data description

Being connected to the internet is not sufficient; it has to be completed by the appropriate skills to take advantage of the myriad of possibilities unravelled by a digital society. A workforce with ICT specialists’ skills, possessing the potential to maintain and to grow the digital economy, is a key element for a successful digital transformation. Started less than a decade ago, a wide range of EU policy initiatives have demonstrated the need for ICT specialists' statistics to answer the challenges of the spread of digital on the labour market. After the Digital single market strategy (2014-2019) and the European digital strategy (2020) the digital transformation remains high on the European policy agenda. Making Europe fit for the digital age and empowering its citizens and businesses with a new generation of technologies is one of the main political priorities of the European Commission for the coming years. In the Digital Decade Communication (9 March 2021) setting a vision and targets for a successful digital transformation of Europe by 2030, highly skilled digital professionals coupled to digitally skilled citizens form one of the four cardinal points of the digital compass. The target for achieving the EU’s ambitions for a human centred, sustainable and prosperous digital future is to reach 20 million employed ICT specialists in the EU coupled with a greater convergence of gender balance in taking up such jobs. The European Skills Agenda launched to ensure that the right training, the right skills and the right support are available for people in the EU, have been extended to support cooperation between education, employment and industry to develop a pool of digital talent in the EU. Individuals and the labour force in general shall be equipped with adequate digital skills to prevent the loss of key ICT jobs in the European Union to other regions of the world. In parallel, the European Commission is bringing together EU Member States and a range of stakeholders to pledge actions and to monitor progress in developing digital skills through its Digital Progress Report and the Digital Economy and Society Index.

The introduction of new technologies and digitalisation within the European Union (EU) is having an impact on society through changes to the way that people live, work and interact with one another. Policymakers and researchers therefore have a relentless interest in tracking employment developments for ICT specialists, as these influence a country’s comparative advantage in the development, installation and servicing of ICTs. The existence of these data aims at supporting the awareness of policy-makers of the importance of ICT specialists in economic and social transformation related to digitalisation. Eurostat works towards this objective by providing reliable official estimates based on a well-grounded and internationally agreed conceptual framework.

ICT specialists' data are constructed using secondary statistics analysis. This approach has the virtue of ensuring cost-efficient and high-quality data production. Reversely, it has limited options for designing new indicators, as well as for controlling over data quality and data release timing. ICT specialists' indicators and their breakdowns are based on Labour Force Survey's (EU-LFS) microdata. As a consequence, LFS reference metadata need to be consulted for all questions related to the underlying primary source data (see Related Metadata section). ICT specialists' data are conceptually in accordance with the data collected in the special module on "ICT specialists and skills" in the survey ICT usage and e-commerce in enterprises (see Related Metadata and Annexes for more information).


ICT specialists' statistics contains four indicators updated on an annual basis:

(1) ICT specialists, total;

(2) ICT specialists by gender;

(3) ICT specialists by attainment level of education;

(4) ICT specialists by age.

Each indicator is presented in the country/year dimensions and is measured in absolute (1000s) and relative (%) terms. 

Following the release practice of the EU-LFS, publication year is calculated as (t+1), with t being the reference year of the primary data source. The lower bound of the timeframe is determined by the availability of data on education based on the International Standard Classification of EDucation (ISCED). Data for all four indicators are therefore updated yearly from 2004 until the latest year available (as opposed to simply adding one additional year) to incorporate the latest revisions made in the source data, the EU-LFS.

3.2. Classification system

Occupations: International Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO)

Until 2010, coding of occupations is performed according to ISCO-88 and as of 2011 onwards, according to ISCO-08.

Educational attainment: International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED)

Until 2013, coding of educational attainment in data is done according to ISCED 1997 and in data as of 2014 onwards according to ISCED 2011.

3.3. Coverage - sector

Data on ICT specialists in employment include all sectors of economic activities, however, no sector breakdown is provided.

3.4. Statistical concepts and definitions

Following OECD (2004, p. 216), Eurostat defines ICT specialists as "workers who have the ability to develop, operate and maintain ICT systems, and for whom ICT constitute the main part of their job".

Operationalised in terms of ISCO codes, this definition converts into a statistical definition of ICT specialists as follows:

(1) for data starting in 2004 to 2010 included, ICT specialists are defined by the following occupations in ISCO-88:

  1236 Computing services managers
213 Computing professionals
  2144 Electronics and telecommunications engineers
  2359 Information technology trainers
  3114 Electronics and telecommunications engineering technicians
312 Computer associate professionals
313 Optical and electronics equipment operators
  7242 Electronics fitters
  7243 Electronics mechanics and servicers
  8283 Electronic-equipment assemblers

 (2) from 2011 onwards - correspondingly to the application of the ISCO-08, Eurostat and OECD adopted a joint approach which considers the following occupations to be treated as ICT specialists (OECD, 2015):

  133   ICT Service managers
   25      Information and communications technology professionals
251 Software and multimedia developers and analysts
2511  Systems analysts
2512 Software developers
2513 Web and multimedia developers
2514 Application programmers
2519 Software and multimedia developers and analysts not elsewhere classified
252  Database specialists and systems administrators
2521 Database designers and administrators
2522 Systems administrators
2523 Computer network professionals
2529 Database and network professionals not elsewhere classified
35   Information and communications technicians
351  ICT operations and user support technicians
3511 ICT operations technicians
3512 ICT user support technicians
3513 Computer network and systems technicians
3514 Web technicians
352 Communications technicians
3521 Broadcasting and audio-visual technicians
3522 Telecommunications engineering technicians
  2152 Electronic engineers
2153 Telecommunication engineers
2166 Graphic and multimedia designers
2356 Information technology trainers
2434 ICT sales professionals
3114 Electronics engineering technicians
  742 Electronics and Telecommunications Installers and Repairers
7421 Electronics mechanics and servicers
7422 ICT installers and servicers

 Application of the definition to the EU-LFS data:

Up to 2021, European Member States were not legally obliged to collect data on occupation at the 4-digit level of aggregation as required by the application of the definition of ICT specialists in employment. This voluntary practice lead to many missing detailed data and practical problems in the calculation of EU and national aggregates.

To correct these technical difficulties, a first method to impute the missing values based on a combined approach of Occupations and Education taxonomies (for more information about introducing different taxonomies in measuring ICT employment see Sabadash (2012)) has been introduced. It consisted in filtering the microdata by the variable that captures the fields of education related to ICT in the parent 3-digit group of the corresponding 4-digit occupation resulting as missing information.

However, the mapping between fields of education related to ICT and occupations was far being perfect (according to the ISCED classification by Fields of education and training); persons who have obtained a degree in one field may not work in the same area of competence. Furthermore, in countries where detailed information was available, studies had showed that the education filter method brought different results compared to aggregating national microdata. Given that ICT specialists’ indicators are part of the Digital scoreboard measuring digital performance of Europe, it was obvious that the statistical series would need a revised methodology to estimate the missing information.

This new estimation method called the Ratio Method involved the application of a statistical ratio to country/year/occupation missing values on a case-by-case basis. On top of the existing missing data, a change in classification for occupations (ISCO-88 to ISCO-08) had been implemented in 2011, introducing a break in series, without a possibility of mapping between those versions of the classification. It was thus more consistent to treat the two sub-series each corresponding to a different version of the classifications of occupations (i.e. '2004-2010' for the ISCO-88 and '2011-nowadays' for the ISCO-08) separately with their respective ratios. Technically, the estimations of the missing values implemented in the LFS microdata have been used to calculate the new values of the aggregates. More details including the composition of the ratio are described in a JRC Working paper (M. Lopez Cobo et al. (2020)) also accessible from the Annexes. In September 2020, the new estimation methodology substituted the filter method in the data processing of ICT specialists in employment.

In 2021, the adoption of the Regulation (EU) 2019/1700 on Integrated European Social Statistics imposed occupations to be collected at 4D-level of details in LFS data, leading to changes in the survey methodology in many countries and the introduction of another flag for break in series on all data.

 In Eurobase, EU-LFS data estimated with the ratio method will be flagged with the flag 's', standing for 'Eurostat's estimations'. This flag 's' is not compatible in combination with flags other than 'b' standing for 'Break(s) in series', the flags 'c' (confidential) and 'u' (low reliability) remaining dominant. 

Primary statistics concepts:

The definitions and concepts of 'employment status' and 'education level' follow the definitions and recommendations of the International Labour Organisation. They are derived from the reference metadata LFS main indicators and Educational attainment level and transition from education to work (based on EU-LFS) accessible from the Related Metadata section. The main concepts related to the labour status are the following:

Employed persons are all persons who worked at least one hour for pay or profit during the reference week or were temporarily absent from such work.

The educational attainment level of an individual is the highest ISCED (International Standard Classification of EDucation) level successfully completed, the successful completion of an education programme being validated by a recognised qualification, i.e. a qualification officially recognised by the relevant national education authorities or recognised as equivalent to another qualification of formal education. In countries where there is no such certification, successful completion is associated with full attendance. When determining the highest level, both general and vocational education are taken into consideration. The ISCED definition of education includes training. Persons who did not answer to the question 'highest level of education or training successfully completed’ are excluded from data on educational attainment level.

In the table 'ICT specialists by level of education', two levels of education are distinguished:

- 'Tertiary education': from 2014 reference year onwards, this aggregate covers ISCED 2011 levels 5, 6, 7 and 8 (short-cycle tertiary education, bachelor's or equivalent level, master's or equivalent level, doctoral or equivalent level, online code ED5-8 ‘tertiary education’). Data from 2004 up to 2013 refer to ISCED 1997 levels 5 and 6;

- 'Non-tertiary education (levels 0-4)': this aggregate includes levels 0 to 4 in both ISCED 1997 and ISCED 2011.

Categories for educational attainment levels in both classifications at 1-digit level are summarised as following:

ISCED 1997 ISCED 2011
Level 0 Pre-primary education Level 0 Less than primary education
Level 1 Primary education or first stage of basic education Level 1 Primary education
Level 2 Lower secondary or second stage of basic education Level 2 Lower secondary education
Level 3 (Upper) secondary education Level 3 Upper secondary education
Level 4 Post-secondary non-tertiary education Level 4 Post-secondary non-tertiary education
Level 5 First stage of tertiary education Level 5 Short-cycle tertiary education
Level 6 Bachelor’s or equivalent level
Level 6 Second stage of tertiary education Level 7 Master’s or equivalent level
Level 8 Doctoral or equivalent level

In the table 'ICT specialists by age', data are presented for two aggregates: '15 to 34 years old' and '35 years or older but less than 74 years old'. The lower and the upper age bounds follow the approach adopted for persons in employment in the primary source data (see also section 3.6 and the Related Metadata section).

3.5. Statistical unit

Persons living in private households

3.6. Statistical population

The EU-LFS results cover total population usually residing in Member States, except for persons living in collective or institutional households. While demographic data are gathered for all age groups, questions relating to labour market status are restricted to persons in the age group of '15 years or older'. The EU-LFS covers all industries and occupations.

More details are available in the EU-LFS - Methodology - Statistics Explained applicable until the 2020 data collection. The new methodology in force from the EU-LFS 2021 data collection onwards is described in the article EU Labour Force Survey - new methodology from 2021 onwards.

3.7. Reference area

EU aggregates, individual EU Member States, the United Kingdom (until 2019 reference year), Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Candidate countries.

3.8. Coverage - Time

Annual time series are available from 2004 onwards.

3.9. Base period

Not applicable

4. Unit of measure Top

Number of persons (thousands) and ratios (share of total number of persons in %)

5. Reference Period Top

ICT specialists' indicators refer to calendar years. They are calculated using annual EU-LFS data, which encompass the four reference quarters in a year (more information is to be found in the LFS main indicators metadata).

6. Institutional Mandate Top
6.1. Institutional Mandate - legal acts and other agreements

ICT specialists' indicators are among others used for policy monitoring purposes (see section 3.1).

A set of benchmarking indicators is to be provided through the European Statistical System. The mandate to produce the ICT specialists' indicators is based on the Memorandum of Understanding between Eurostat and the Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content & Technology (DG CNECT) in the area of statistics and follows the data requirements outlined in the Monitoring the Digital Economy and Society 2016-2021.

6.2. Institutional Mandate - data sharing

Not applicable

7. Confidentiality Top
7.1. Confidentiality - policy

Regulation (EC) No 223/2009 on European statistics (recital 24 and Article 20(4)) of 11 March 2009 (OJ L 87, p. 164), stipulates the need to establish common principles and guidelines ensuring the confidentiality of data used for the production of European statistics and the access to those confidential data with due account for technical developments and the requirements of users in a democratic society.

7.2. Confidentiality - data treatment

Confidentiality flags are provided by the Eurostat LFS team, which performs confidentiality controls in accordance with the standard procedures in course applicable to EU-LFS data.

8. Release policy Top
8.1. Release calendar

Data are released in spring and autumn, following the EU-LFS release calendar.

8.2. Release calendar access

Consult the EU-LFS release calendar.

8.3. Release policy - user access

In line with the Community legal framework and the European Statistics Code of Practice, Eurostat disseminates European statistics on Eurostat's website (see item 10 'Accessibility and clarity') respecting professional independence and in an objective, professional and transparent manner in which all users are treated equitably. The detailed arrangements are governed by the Eurostat protocol on impartial access to Eurostat data for users.

9. Frequency of dissemination Top


10. Accessibility and clarity Top
10.1. Dissemination format - News release

Annual news release via Eurostat website

10.2. Dissemination format - Publications

Statistics Explained article and generic publications of the European Commission

10.3. Dissemination format - online database

Eurostat produces tailor-made tables for primary data that are not available online but at the request of users (see http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/help/support).

10.4. Dissemination format - microdata access

Not applicable

10.5. Dissemination format - other


10.6. Documentation on methodology

A detailed description of methods and concepts used for ICT specialists is given by the OECD (2015). Definitions and explanations related to primary data should be consulted from LFS metadata files, available in the Annexes.

10.7. Quality management - documentation

Quality control of primary data is ensured by the corresponding EU-LFS procedures.

11. Quality management Top
11.1. Quality assurance

Quality assurance relies on the corresponding EU-LFS quality control practices.

11.2. Quality management - assessment

Good quality is achieved due to rigorous quality checks performed on primary EU-LFS data.

12. Relevance Top
12.1. Relevance - User Needs

ICT specialists' data are mostly used in the context of the monitoring the digital economy and society via the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI). The most recent objective of reaching 20 million ICT specialists by 2030 and a greater gender convergence set in the 'Skills' cardinal point of the digital compass materializing the Europe's Digital Decade policy communication will be measured by the Digital Progress report sustaining the DESI.

The main users of ICT specialists' statistics are DG CNECT, who employs the indicators in the calculation of the DESI used for benchmarking and monitoring the digital economy according to policy priorities, and DG JRC.

12.2. Relevance - User Satisfaction

Eurostat does not carry out a satisfaction survey targeted at users of ICT specialists' statistics. User satisfaction is assessed via well-established contacts with DG CNECT and DG JRC. The main quality aspects valued by users are reliability, accessibility, clarity, comparability and relevance of the statistical products.

12.3. Completeness

Completeness of variables and breakdowns is satisfactory.

13. Accuracy Top
13.1. Accuracy - overall

In general, good accuracy and reliability of the results are ensured by the source data collection practices of the EU-LFS. 

All countries apply a probability sampling. The chosen method varies across countries but most of them use multi-staged stratified random sample design, especially those that do not have central population registers available. As the EU-LFS data are based on a population sample and are mostly collected by interview, they are subject to the usual types of errors associated with sampling techniques and interviewing. Sampling and non-sampling errors, are calculated for each country and documented in the Quality Report of the European Union Labour Force Survey.

13.2. Sampling error

Not applicable

13.3. Non-sampling error

Not applicable

14. Timeliness and punctuality Top
14.1. Timeliness

Timeliness of data publication depends on the source data release practice.

14.2. Punctuality

Data are published shortly after the public release of source data. The deadline for source data publication follows the rules of the LFS unit in Eurostat.

15. Coherence and comparability Top
15.1. Comparability - geographical

Geographical comparability, as defined by EU-LFS, is considered as high (see reference metadata LFS main indicators for more information).

15.2. Comparability - over time

Comparability over time is severely impacted by the introduction of the latest version of ISCO in 2011, which has produced a break in series. Two different revisions of ISCO were applied for the corresponding sub-periods: ISCO-88 from 2004 until 2010, and ISCO-08 from 2011 onwards. Since the first quarter of 2011 with the transposition to ISCO-08, national statistical offices stopped collecting ISCO-88-based information for the EU-LFS. At the same time, due to the absence of one-to-one correspondence between ISCO-88 and ISCO-08 at the 3- and 4-digit levels of aggregation, the new classification was not applied to re-construct the old series retrospectively. This explains why a mapping between the two versions of the ICT specialists' definition based on two different ISCO classifications is not possible. It is therefore recommended to consider the two respective sub-periods, 'prior to 2010' and 'from 2011 onwards' as completely separate and independent.

More details are available in Eurostat Metadata ISCO-88 and ISCO-08 (on the classification of occupations), Comparability between ISCO-08 and ISCO-88 (an explanation on the transition from ISCO-88 to ISCO-08) and EU-LFS coding lists and explanatory notes over time (on the codification of EU-LFS variables using ISCO over time in all reporting countries).

In 2021, the implementation of Regulation (EU) 2019/1700 on Integrated European Social Statistics lead to changes in the methodology in some countries, with the effect of flagging all data with a break in series for the reference year 2021. 

15.3. Coherence - cross domain

ICT specialists' indicators are conceptually in accordance with enterprise data reported in Eurobase Section on 'ICT competences and demand for ICT skills in enterprises' – both data are based on the same conceptual definition of ICT specialists (i.e. 'workers who have the ability to develop, operate and maintain ICT systems, and for whom ICT constitute the main part of their job'). Nevertheless, the technical definition is more restrictive in the ICT usage and e-commerce in enterprises survey.

ICT specialists' statistics are coherent with EU-LFS indicators in its breakdowns and primary sources. ICT specialists' statistics are nevertheless not reconcilable with ICT sector employment data (isoc_bde15ap).

15.4. Coherence - internal

Internal coherence among ICT specialists' indicators is ensured by the application of a same definition, estimation method and source microdata.

16. Cost and Burden Top

There is no additional cost nor burden for respondents in collecting ICT specialists' data other than those related to primary data sources. ICT specialists' statistics are a value added while re-using previously collected and validated data to the additional cost needed for primary data processing.

17. Data revision Top
17.1. Data revision - policy

No specific data revisions are made for secondary statistics, the exception being an error occurred at secondary level only.

17.2. Data revision - practice

ICT specialists' indicators are final upon release.

The complete time series are updated once per year with the autumn EU-LFS data release (consult the EU-LFS release calendar).

18. Statistical processing Top
18.1. Source data

Source microdata come from EU-LFS. Microdata are extracted using Eurostat EU-LFS data extraction tool. Extraction procedure is calibrated based on the statistical definitions and estimation method described in section 3.4.

18.2. Frequency of data collection

Primary microdata are collected quarterly, with annual aggregates being released in spring. ICT specialists' indicators are calculated on an annual basis.

18.3. Data collection

See metadata for primary EU-LFS microdata (respective links are provided in the Related Metadata section).

18.4. Data validation

Secondary data are validated using comparisons with previous years and cross-countries variations. If atypical behaviour of the variables is discovered, it is reported back to the Eurostat LFS division. If needed, countries are contacted for more detailed explanation. If a country-year indicator is considered unreliable, data are flagged or not disseminated.

More information on primary data validation is available in the respective metadata listed in the Related Metadata section.

18.5. Data compilation

Primary data are re-arranged to produce secondary statistics indicators as described in sections 3.1 and 3.4.

18.6. Adjustment

Not applicable

19. Comment Top


Related metadata Top
edat1_esms - Educational attainment level and transition from education to work (based on EU-LFS)
employ_esms - Employment and unemployment (Labour force survey)
lfsa_esms - LFS series - detailed annual survey results

Annexes Top
OECD (2004) Information Technology Outlook
Sabadash A. (2012) ICT Employment Statistics in Europe: Measuring Methodology
EU LFS - methodology
International Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO)
Comparability between ISCO-08 and ISCO-88
International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED)
Methodological manuals on Community Survey on ICT Usage and e-Commerce in Enterprises
OECD (2015) EUROSTAT-OECD Definition of ICT Specialists
Lopez Cobo M. et al. (2020) ICT Specialists in Employment - Methodological Note JRC Working Paper Series on Labour, Education and Technology 2020/07, JRC Technical report 119846, European Commission.
The Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI)