EU Science Hub

Competence frameworks: the European approach to teach and learn 21st century skills

Jun 10 2016

On 10 June 2016, the Commission adopted a new and comprehensive Skills Agenda for Europe. The aim is to ensure that people develop a broad set of skills from early on in life and to make the most of Europe’s human capital, which will ultimately boost employability, competitiveness and growth in Europe. Critical thinking, entrepreneurship, problem solving or digital competences are just some of the competences enshrined by the New Skills Agenda. These skills emerge today as key to allow people to develop good-quality jobs and fulfil their potential as confident, active citizens. But how can these new skills and competences be described and acquired?


Skills and competence frameworks

Education and employment authorities as well as companies and citizens from EU Member States count today with specific tools to improve and streamline these skills. The JRC's Sense of Initiative and Entrepreneurship  framework (EntreComp), describes and breaks down entrepreneurship as a transversal competence useful to all spheres of life: personal development, participating in society, entering the job market as employee or as self-employed, and also to starting up and growing (cultural, social or commercial) ventures.

Another JRC-developed framework, the Digital Competence framework (DigComp) allows confident, critical and creative use of ICT to achieve goals related to work, employability, learning, leisure, inclusion and participation in society. Thirteen EU Member States are already implementing this framework and new applications emerge daily, adjusted to specific contexts and purposes. EntreComp will now follow the same development, from a solid theoretical framework, to a collection of locally adjusted implementation cases from regional and national EU authorities.  

Last but not least, the European Framework for Digitally-Competent Educational Organisations (DigCompOrg), recently released by the JRC, helps educational organisations self-assess the use and integration of digital technologies and resources in the learning process. A group of primary, secondary schools and vocational education and training centres from several EU member states will soon start a self-assessment using the DigCompOrg framework, which is now being translated by education authorities of seven European countries.


Opening up education
The JRC also supports, through research and analysis, policy-makers dealing with opening up education. As documented in several recent JRC studies, open education is becoming increasingly important in Europe but is also facing a number of challenges. The JRC is analysing which measures could influence quality, efficiency, equity and innovation, and will soon release an Open Education framework for higher education institutions. These frameworks follow a common methodology based in a strong collaboration between academics, educational experts and policy makers across regions and member states of the EU. This is facilitated by the collaboration between the JRC and the Directorates-General for  Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion and for Education and Culture.