e-CF in 3 minutes


Author: Lex Hendriks


The European e-Competence Framework.

The Basics

The European e-Competence Framework, e-CF, is a reference framework for competences applied within the ICT sector and a common language for ICT related knowledge, skills and attitudes.


The e-CF has been developed by the Workshop on ICT Skills of the European Committee for Standardization (CEN), with contributions of a large number of  ICT and HR experts. The development of the e-CF started in 2005 after recommendations of the European e-Skills Forum that national ICT framework stakeholders and ICT experts should consider developing a European e-competence framework. With the introduction of version 3.0 in 2014 the CEN started the process to make the e-CF a European standard.

A competence is defined in the e-CF as a ‘demonstrated ability to apply knowledge, skills and attitudes to achieving observable results’.

Each of the 40 competences in e-CF 3.0 is described in four so called ‘dimensions’:

  1. The e-Competence Area
    taken from a simple ICT process model: Plan – Build – Run – Enable – Manage
  2. A Generic Description
    in terms of the behavior showing the competence and the expected contribution at the workplace
  3. Proficiency Levels
    based on a mix of:
  • autonomy (from ‘being instructed’ to ‘making choices’)
  • context complexity (from ‘structured/predictable’ to ‘unstructured/unpredictable’)
  • behavior (from ‘able to apply’ to ‘able to conceive’)
  1. Knowledge and Skills examples
    that may be relevant for competence performance as described in dimensions 2 and 3

The e-CF proficiency levels, 1 to 5, are very similar to the levels 3 to 8 of the European Qualification Framework (EQF) used in formal education. For most competences in the e-CF only two or three levels are defined.

The e-CF is published by the CEN ICT Skills Workshop as a CEN Workshop Agreement (CWA) and consists of four parts.

  • Part 1 is the standard itself
  • Part 2 contains guidance on the use of the standard
  • Part 3 documents how the e-CF was developed
  • Part 4 illustrates the application of e-CF in practice by providing 15 case studies


Figure 1: Overview of the e-CF competences and proficiency levels.


Target Audience

The framework provides an international tool for:

  • ICT practitioners and managers, with clear guidelines for their competence development
  • Human resources managers, enabling the anticipation and planning of competence requirements
  • Education, training and certification, enabling effective planning and design of ICT curricula and assessment of professionals
  • Policy makers, professional organizations and market researchers, providing a clear and Europe-wide agreed reference for ICT professionalism, ICT skills and competences in a long-term perspective
  • Procurement managers, providing a common language for effective technical terms of reference in national and international bids

Scope and Constraints

The e-CF supports the definition of job roles, career paths, professional development plans, learning paths and qualifications based on a shared common language and competence structure. It allows detailed profiling by defining profiles combining various competences. Measurement and assessment of competence using the e-CF as a reference framework enables identifying competence gaps, at an individual, team or organizational level,  and effective targeted training or recruitment.


Where job titles and job descriptions rapidly become obsolete in the dynamic and complex environment of modern organizations, competence is recognized as a more stable basis expressing capabilities required in the workplace.

As a reference framework, the e-CF can be aligned with HR instruments already existing in an organization, including other competency frameworks.


The e-CF descriptions of competences, describing behavior in the workplace, easily are misunderstood as describing roles in an organization. Using the e-CF, e.g. for role profiles, one has to keep in mind that the framework is just that: a framework.   Guidance on how to use the framework can be found in Part 2, the User Guide.

Recommended reading:

OMS_eCF_PRAKTIJK_v2 LR-541x850Title: e-CF in de Praktijk
ISBN: 9789401800211
Authors: Marleen Olde Hartmann
Price: € 29,95 (VAT excl.) 


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