ESCO is the multilingual classification of European Skills, Competences, Qualifications and Occupations. It identifies and categorises skills and competences, qualifications and occupations relevant for the EU labour market and education and training. ESCO is part of the Europe 2020 strategy.

The system provides occupational profiles showing the relationships between occupations, skills, competences and qualifications. ESCO has been developed in an open IT format and is available for everyone to use free of charge.

While ESCO is not a tool that performs job matching, career guidance or recognition of qualifications itself, it facilitates the development and implementation of instruments responding to these needs. When building on ESCO, services and applications will improve their scope and their potential impact. The following examples of practical applications illustrate the added value of ESCO.

  • Employers can use ESCO to define the set of skills, competences and qualifications their vacancies require when they are developing a job description.
  • Online job portals can use the vocabulary of ESCO for analysing CVs and job vacancies in the official European languages.
  • ESCO is a European interoperability classification. When linked to national classifications it can be used to exchange information across borders and language barriers.
  • At European level, ESCO provides for a closer matching of jobseekers to jobs through EURES, the European Job Mobility Portal – as well as support individuals in the development of a Europass CV.
  • Learners can use ESCO to build personal skill profiles and to record their learning outcomes in applications.

ESCO developments reflect the on-going shift to learning outcomes currently taking place across Europe. The learning outcomes approach states what a jobseeker knows, understands and is able to do on completion of a learning process. It offers an alternative to the traditionally strong emphasis on learning inputs where a qualification is judged according to time spent in education, subjects studied and the location of the learning. These learning outcomes are commonly defined in terms of knowledge, skills and competences, thus sharing the basic terminological principles underpinning ESCO. This shared terminological core will facilitate the dialogue between labour market and education and training stakeholders.