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DISCO makes your skills visible!
DISCO Project information

DISCO II (duration: November 2010 - October 2012) is the follow-up project to DISCO I. It improves and extends terminological support for the description and translation of abilities, skills, and competences in the contexts of the labour market and education by offering the following services:

  • three new languages: Italian, Slovakian, Spanish;
  • an extended DISCO Thesaurus that will include phraseological competence descriptors for the sectors of health, social services, environmental protection and information technology, as well as a non-domain-specific area; and
  • an upgraded version of the DISCO website with additional functions that create, compare and translate competence profiles and learning outcome descriptions within European transparency documents.

Presentations of the final conference in Rome, 18 October 2012:

  • Heidemarie Müller-Riedlhuber, Petra Ziegler (3s Unternehmensberatung): “DISCO II – prospects and challenges of a standardised multilingual terminology” (View PDF)
  • Martin le Vrang (European Commission, DG Employment): “ESCO and the envisaged role of the European Taxonomy of Skills/Competences, qualifications and Occupations for the European Labour Market ” (View presentation)
  • Koen Nomden (European Commission, DG Education): “ESCO and the envisaged role of the European Taxonomy of Skills/Competences, qualifications, and Occupations for (Vocational) Education and Training” (View PDF)
  • Saverio Pescuma (ISFOL): “Application scenarios of DISCO I and II in the context of the ESCO development” (View PDF)
  • Michala Čičváková (NUV): “Using DISCO for Europass Centres” (View PDF)
  • Mario Pichler (Software Competence Center Hagenberg): “Using the DISCO taxonomy for ontology-based job matching of skills” (View PDF)
  • Alexander Polonsky (Mondeca): “Combining semantic technology with multilingual taxonomies such as DISCO – a few usage scenarios” (View PDF)


The DISCO Project follows the European Parliament and Council definitions of knowledge, skills, competences, and learning outcomes (EQF Recommendation 2008):

  • 'Knowledge' means the outcome of the assimilation of information through learning. Knowledge is the body of facts, principles, theories, and practices that is related to a field of work or study. In the context of the European Qualifications Framework, knowledge is described as theoretical and/or factual.
  • 'Skills' means the ability to apply knowledge and use know-how to complete tasks and solve problems. In the context of the European Qualifications Framework, skills are described as cognitive (involving the use of logic, intuition and creative thinking) or practical (involving manual dexterity and the use of methods, materials, tools and instruments).
  • 'Competence' means the proven ability to use knowledge, skills and personal, social, and/or methodological abilities in work or study situations and in professional and personal development. In the context of the European Qualifications Framework, competence is described in terms of responsibility and autonomy.
  • 'Learning outcomes' means statements of what a learner knows, understands, and is able to do upon completion of a learning process. These are defined in terms of knowledge, skills, and competence.

In general, however, DISCO is based on a comprehensive understanding of skills and competences that also include personal attitudes, values, behavioural patterns, and all vocational abilities, whether they have been acquired formally or informally.

We distinguish the following skill types:

  • Personal Competences: personal attributes, attitudes and capacities; e.g. motivation, leadership, initiative, flexibility, adaptability, physical strength, good eyesight, etc.
  • Core Competences: generic skills, key skills,and transferable skills needed for success in the labour market; e.g. communication, problem-solving, team-working, basic IT skills, etc. Basic skills like literacy, numeracy, and oral communication are part of core competences.
  • Occupational Skills: specialized knowledge pertaining to a particular occupation or occupational group. Some occupational skills like IT-skills are transferable across occupations.

A thesaurus is a controlled vocabulary. Its concepts are connected via relationships, e.g. broader term/narrower term, synonyms. A concept can be understood as a cognitive unit of meaning or an abstract idea; it is sometimes defined as a "unit of knowledge". Thus, in IT, a thesaurus is often seen as a knowledge representation of a topic – in our case skills and competences – that offers the possibility of making explicit existing relationships between concepts.

When deciding which concepts should be represented within the thesaurus, we follow two principles:

  • Principle 1: Electivity - Choose only those concepts likely to interest users, giving preference to “common sense” expressions over academic expressions.
  • Principle 2: Exhaustiveness - All concepts necessary for the envisaged usage context of the thesaurus must be identified.

The following methods are used to identify which concepts our intended user groups require:

  1. frequency of term usage in job ads, matching systems, CVs, etc.
  2. frequency of phrase usage in Certificate Supplements and official occupational profiles (for four DISCO II sectors)
  3. analysis of user needs
  4. comparison of comprehensive national and international skills repositories
  5. vocabulary analysis of job seekers and learning outcome descriptions

Data Sources

DISCO's database is provided by the following comprehensive national skills compilations:

  • AMS-Qualifikationsklassifikation (Austria)
  • Kompetenzenkatalog (Germany)
  • ROME (France)
  • Taxonomy DB (Sweden)
  • O*NET (USA)

DISCO II phrases have been developed for four sectors - IT, environmental protection, health, and social sciences - based on the collection of about 200 Certificate Supplements and occupational profiles in partner countries, and the analysis of 2000 – 3000 competence description statements in ten European languages.

The project consortium consists of experts in the field of VET and competence classifications as well as researchers, promoters of transparency documents, universities and educational consultancy institutions.

Logo Lifelong Learning Programm, Education and Culture DG

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.