At the beginning of 2016, the European Commission launched a series of ‘country visit’ initiatives aimed at assessing the different national classifications of occupations, skills and qualifications in the labour market.

On 14 March 2016, a first meeting among a delegation of officials from DG Employment, the European skills/competences, qualifications and occupations (ESCO) secretariat, the Ministry of Labour and ISFOL took place.

ESCO originates within this framework and within the initiative New skills for new jobs, which highlighted the need to develop a common skills language able to create stronger training, education and labour market links. The need for this was confirmed by the recommendation Europe 2020 (A European strategy for smart sustainable and inclusive growth) and by the Educational Council on 13 May 2010. ESCO’s goal is to create a multilingual taxonomic classification and a database of skills/competences, qualifications and occupations, while cooperating with all the stakeholders in labour market management and development. ESCO will be an instrument linking skills/competences, qualifications and occupations and will be made freely available to stakeholders. It can also be integrated with different national, regional and sector-related classification systems, while enabling exchange of information.

An efficient process of information exchange among different systems is essential to implementing ESCO. Fast retrieval, reliability and precision of the information exchanged are key factors for an efficient system, so semantic interoperability will be a fundamental feature of ESCO: semantic interoperability is the ability of two or more computer systems to interpret automatically any information exchanged in an accurate and meaningful way. To achieve this, a common standard for the description of the information in the database is essential for ESCO. In addition to the mapping of the different classification systems, through the adoption of semantic technologies and open formats, it also possible to create applications which can speed up and make automatic job matching procedures more efficient, even among different systems.

With particular reference to the Italian situation, the challenge for using ESCO is not technical or structural, but is associated with the need to integrate national employment services with such an instrument, to aid exchange of information between the national job demand/offer and the European one, and to support worker mobility nationally and internationally.  Schools and universities are making a huge effort to adapt their curricula to the needs of the labour market but, at the same time, a persistent shortage of conceptual models, communication infrastructures and techniques accelerating and facilitating such dynamics is recorded. Once ESCO taxonomy is well defined, its adoption by employment services will be supported. The classifications already adopted will not be abolished but incorporated to enable the intercommunication of existing systems and support the exchange of information on labour market needs. This will result in increased opportunities for inclusion of young people and worker mobility in the labour market.

In Italy, ESCO will not carry out job matching directly but will be the ‘component’ to be integrated into ad hoc instruments and will support such activity. For example, it can be used by the main online portals dedicated to employment-related public services, such as Cliclavoro ( managed by the Ministry of Labour), which may not have to vary their internal structure to map curricula and job offers. In this way, employers and workers will have the opportunity to search for matches based on parameters related to skills and competences.