Sunday, June 5, 2011

ESCO Newsletter Issue 1/2011

In this issue
Establishing the ESCO Board
First ESCO Board meeting
Establishing the ESCO Maintenance Committee
Preliminary summary of the survey results (part II)
Next ESCO Newsletter

Establishing of the ESCO Board
The classification of European Skills/Competences, qualifications and Occupations (ESCO) will be developed by the European Commission in close cooperation with the stakeholders. The first big step for a stakeholder ownership has been made: the ESCO Board has been established.

What is the role of the ESCO Board?
The ESCO Board is the decision taking body within the ESCO organisational structure. It will provide strategic guidance, promote the ESCO project and take decisions related to ESCO policy, approach, direction and operations. In short, the ESCO Board is the captain on the ESCO boat.

How is the ESCO Board composed?
The first ESCO Board consists of 12 permanent members which have been appointed by the European Commission for a term of two years. The composition of the Board reflects the diversity of the stakeholders. Stakeholders of the two main fields, employment/labour market and the education/training, are equally represented. And of course, the Social Partners have a say in the ESCO Board, as well. But first and foremost, all ESCO Board members are senior executives with an excellent high-level overview of their stakeholder group's needs.

Who are the members of the first ESCO Board?
The members of the first ESCO Board are:

Jeremy Groombridge, English Public Employment Service
Claes-Göran Lock, Swedish Public Employment Service
Denis Pennel, Eurociett
Wilfried Boomgaert, Flemish Ministry of Education and Training
Joachim James Calleja, Maltese Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport
Peter Thiele, German Federal Ministry of Education and Research
Jeff Bridgeford, European Trade Union Committee for Education
Bojidar Danev, Bulgarian Industrial Association
Gorm Johansen, Danish Chamber of Commerce
Wallis Goelen, DG Employment, Social Affairs, Inclusion
Michael Teutsch, DG Education and Culture
In addition to the regular ESCO Board members, four experts attend the Board as permanent observers without voting rights. They advise the ESCO Board in their respective fields of expertise:
Michel Baut, DG Translation
Karel De Vriendt, DG Informatics
Christian Lettmayr, European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop)
Inna Šteinbuka, Eurostat

Who is chairing the ESCO Board?
The ESCO Board unanimously elected Mr Jeremy Groombridge as chair and Mr Peter Thiele as vice chair in its first meeting.

European Commission handing over to the new chair of the ESCO Board
European Commission handing over to the new chair of the ESCO Board
From left to right: Jeremy Groombridge, Wallis Goelen, Peter Thiele, Michael Teutsch.

First ESCO Board meeting
What did the ESCO Board decide on its first meeting?
In its first meeting the ESCO Board focused on major methodological decisions. It endorsed the three pillar approach of ESCO covering occupations, skills/competences and qualifications. Concerning the interrelation between these three pillars a major decision was taken concerning the link between skills/competences and occupations. This link would be established directly between skills/competences and occupations on the level of individual occupations and not on the level of occupation groups. Feasibility and technical durability of this solution shall be assessed and tested by the ESCO Secretariat in collaboration with the ESCO Maintenance Committee and the Reference Groups.

The ESCO Board also took an important decision regarding the release of ESCO: a preliminary version (pre-ESCO v0) will be made available to interested stakeholders for testing purposes. Only the revised version (ESCO v0) will be made available publicly.

The next ESCO Board meeting will take place in London on 31 May 2011.

Establishing the ESCO Maintenance Committee
What is the role of the ESCO Maintenance Committee?
The ESCO Maintenance Committee will have a major role in the conceptual work of ESCO and it will advise the Board in technical and methodological questions. It will also be involved in technical decisions concerning the acceptance or rejection of documented change proposals. It will mainly consist of experts in classifications and/or terminology in the fields that ESCO covers.

How and when are members of the ESCO Maintenance Committee appointed?
Based on the proposals received from stakeholders, mainly through the targeted survey, the European Commission identified a list of experts possessing the knowledge and experience required for the work in the ESCO Maintenance Committee. The European Commission approached these potential candidates and will propose them to the ESCO Board before its second meeting on 31 May 2011.

The members for the ESCO Maintenance Committee, including its chair, will then be appointed by the ESCO Board.

Preliminary summary of the survey results (part II)
ESCO is a key priority for the Commission in the context of New Skills for New Jobs and Europe 2020. Between 17 August 2010 and 1 October 2010 the European Commission conducted a targeted stakeholder survey to gather feedback on the development of the ESCO classification. The survey covered stakeholders' experience with existing taxonomies and their views on the potential benefits of the ESCO project, on the challenges facing its development and on the proposed management structures for stakeholder involvement. In the first ESCO Newsletter, published on the 27th of October a preliminary summary of the quantitative survey results were published. In this issue, an executive summary of the full analysis is presented. The complete analysis is available on the website of DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion.

Through the survey, the European Commission reached a good level of coverage and geographical representativeness with responses received from 34 countries – an average of six per Member State. There was also balanced participation from the different types of stakeholders potentially concerned by ESCO – with 40 % of responses from education and training stakeholders, 31 % from the employment/labour market side and 13 % from social partner organisations.

Strong interest in the ESCO project
The replies showed a strong interest in the ESCO project - with 80 % of stakeholders having national or sectoral classifications in place interested in linking to ESCO and 60 % of those who do not currently have national/sectoral classifications believing that ESCO might be sufficient to meet their needs.

Wide spread use of diverse classification systems
Stakeholders' experience with existing taxonomies shows that classification systems of occupations, skills/competences and qualifications are used for a variety of purposes including research and statistical analyses, job matching, data exchange, skills forecasting and recognition of certificates. Currently, these purposes are either achieved by using international systems (mainly ISCO and ISCED), by using regional, national or sectoral systems, or by using combinations of all.

Use of International classification systems

Potential uses of ESCO
The broad stakeholder support for the goals of the ESCO project and potential demand for a European taxonomy in the fields of employment/labour market, of education/training and in the intersection of the two can also be seen from the fact that all proposed potential uses of ESCO were considered to be "important" or "very important". Supporting the skills/competences based job matching process received the highest degree of approval and is therefore considered as a top priority.

ESCO as a challenging project
At the same time, results also indicate how challenging a project like ESCO is. The challenges identified by the European Commission were also seen as the main issues by the stakeholders. Respondents emphasised, that finding the right scope and level of detail is just as crucial as ensuring sufficient resources. It is also essential not to reinvent the wheel but to build on existing structures and experiences and to link to existing frameworks such as the EQF. Adopting a bottom-up approach based on stakeholder involvement is one way of tackling this issue, since it systematically takes account of existing know-how.

Social Partner's point of view
The Social Partner organisations participating in the online survey or sending written contributions in reaction to the survey were in agreement with the overall aims of ESCO. Some of the employer representative organisations emphasised that the scale of the task should not be underestimated and that lean management and sufficient resources would be required to succeed. Furthermore, it was pointed out that the link of ESCO to the EQF, to national systems and to other taxonomies is crucial. Some also expressed the view that there was a need for further assessment of the benefits of ESCO and the efforts it will require.

Operation and management of ESCO
The provisional ideas on the operation of ESCO and its governance structures were largely endorsed and there was a high level of interest in participating in ESCO's management structures – with 55 suggestions received for possible candidates for the ESCO Board, 51 for the ESCO Maintenance Committee and 69 for ESCO Reference Groups.

Strong overall support for the ESCO project
The European Commission has carefully analysed all stakeholder contributions and has taken them into account when establishing the governance structures of ESCO. The analysis of the stakeholder survey was also presented to the ESCO Board, the main decision making body of ESCO. The strong overall support for the project is a good sign for the future work on ESCO. Only if all involved parties pull together will ESCO be successful.

Next ESCO Newsletter
Since the ESCO project is starting to develop at a higher pace, the ESCO Secretariat will from now on issue the ESCO Newsletter on a monthly basis. The next ESCO Newsletter in June 2011 will inter alia sum up the results of the second ESCO Board meeting.
ESCO Logo ESCO Secretariat
European Commission
Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion
Unit C/4 – Employment Services, EURES
B-1049 Brussels, Belgium
Phone: +32 2 29 78762
Fax: +32 2 29 90508

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