“Connecting people and jobs”, that was the theme of the ESCO v1 launching conference, which took place on the 9th and 10th of October at the Square, a venue located in the very heart of Europe’s capital. And what is ESCO if not a new language, a new facilitator to be widely used by European stakeholders and EU citizens in order to facilitate the linking between people and jobs across the European labour market.
How? That was the question that guided the first day of the event. The spotlight was aimed at explaining how ESCO works in practice. The day was organised in several workshops and academic presentations that would showcase pilot projects and possible applications, demonstrating the functionality and uses of ESCO.
Open Badges - Academic presentation
One of the presentation that caught our attention put its focus on Open badges. As a relatively new but very promising technology, Open badges have still a long way to go to be adopted and accepted EU wide. This is the reason we feel that promoting the use of digital badges in events such as the ESCO conference, where major stakeholders belonging both to the labour market and the educational sector are gathered, is of utmost importance.
Prof. Dr. Ilona Buchem (EU-project coordinator, Open Badge Network/Erasmus+, Beuth University of Applied Sciences Berlin) managed to do just that in her presentation, explaining how Open badges would greatly benefit from technical interoperability with skills/competences classifications available in a machine-readable, semantic-web format such as ESCO, which at the moment “is the one and only competency framework using semantic technologies that we can easily reuse for Open badges”.
(We invite you to take a look at her work available here!)
Guess what? This is exactly what Cognizone has been working on, with other partners such as Bosa, Jobpunt and OpenKnowledge Belgium, sponsoring a team of students during the Open Summer of Code 2017 in laying the foundations for a badge builder integrating ESCO: escobadges.eu (read our article related to this project here!). As we speak, the project is still being developed, using the base provided by our amazing team of students, and will be presented at the ePIC conference, taking place from the 25th to the 27th of this month of October in Bologna.
The first day of the ESCO conference ended with the presentations of Eurostat’s “European Big data hackathon” winners. The participants showcased their innovative solutions for enhancing equal opportunities and access to the labour market, using the ESCO classification to create their prototypes while basing themselves on official statistics and big data analysis.
Click on this link to check the prototype of the Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia.
The second day of the ESCO conference was dedicated to Policy debates, exploring how ESCO fits within the wider landscape of European policies for employment and education and in particular the New Skills Agenda for Europe.
After an introductory video from Marianne Thyssen (European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour mobility), we enjoyed a very interesting and interactive discussion on “ESCO: connecting people and jobs” lead by Alison Crabb (Head of Unit Skills and Qualifications, DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, European Commission) and Martin le Vrang (Team leader, DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, European Commission), with whom we have closely worked during the development of ESCO.
The Keynote speech that followed was of particular interest for us. Lead by Simone Ravaioli, Business Development Executive at Digitary and a strong advocate for the use of digital micro-credentials, Open badges and blockchains in the educational ecosystem, the presentation focused on the changes currently experienced by the labour market and the educational sector, adding the ESCO factor into the mix in order to explore the many potential benefits it could bring.
Open badges were again emphasised on as a potent technology that could help reducing the skill gap born from a discrepancy between the qualifications awarded by formal education providers and the competences required on the demand side of the labour market.
Indeed, stakeholders are noticing that the labour market is switching from a qualification-centred to a competences/skills-centred paradigm when it comes to the recruiting of new talents. Digital badges could become a solid bridge between educational sectors and job providers by representing the skills/competences learned and acquired through a qualification and allow the employers to target more efficiently the right person possessing the right skills for the right job, providing at the same time valuable information to the education stakeholders about the competences most relevant to the labour market.
Mr. Ravaioli’s keynote is available here.
The ESCO conference gave then the floor to policy makers, business leaders, social partners and academics to share their perspectives on a changing labour market through two panel discussions.
The first one, “Digitisation and recruitment – changing trends and implications”, focused on the "why and how" employers, recruiters and public and private employment services should adapt their practices and operations to attract and engage talents, while taking into account the latest technological trends and innovative solutions in the recruitment field such as cognitive technologies and talent management platforms, social media and mobile technologies, digital employment branding and big data analysis.
The second one, “The future of work and its socio-economic implications”, was aimed at discussing the role of digital technologies in shaping the future of the labour market, the economy and the nature of work itself; taking into account the disruptive forces that will impact the nature of work and our economy, the consequences entailed for social protection systems and job creation, future skills gaps and mismatches in an ever-increasing polarised labour market, the employment relationship and career paths and the opportunities and solutions brought by digitisation.
Presenting ESCO v1 and its potentialities to a large variety of stakeholders during those two days was a significant step in promoting a wide usage of this great tool, enabling it to fulfil its primary mission: make the EU labour market more efficient by allowing job seekers, employers, job providers, public and private employment services, education providers and all the other relevant stakeholders to speak the same language when it comes to connect people and jobs.
During the duration of the event, Cognizone actively fed the conference's hashtag #ESCO_EU!
You can check our tweets here!
For more information about the conference please follow this link.