e-Competence Framework: the SME way through the European standard on digital competences

e-Competence Framework: the SME way through the European standard on digital competences


This SME User Guide provides support for European small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to apply the EN standard 16234 on the e-Competence Framework (e-CF). It aims to help SMEs understand and make practical use of the e-CF, whereas the standard itself follows a global approach.

What is the European e-Competence Framework?

The European e-Competence Framework (e-CF) is a common reference for ICT knowledge, for use by SMEs in all industry sectors across Europe. A key part of the European Commission’s Digital Agenda, the e-CF has a sector-specific relationship to the European Qualifications Framework (EQF). The e-CF defines 40 digital competencies, all of which can be flexibly implemented. Aimed at Information and Communication Technology professionals, the e-CF describes general and comprehensive e-competences, specified at five proficiency levels. These e-competences can be customised and adopted by enterprises, professionals and stakeholders in different contexts. The e-CF can be applied by various types of organisations in both the public and private sectors. It can also be used to promote clearer understanding of digital organisations’ competence needs, as it uses a common language for competences, skills and capability levels that are easily understood across Europe.

What are competence, knowledge, skills and attitude?

Competence ‘A demonstrated ability to apply knowledge, skills and attitudes for achieving observable results.’

Knowledge The ‘set of know-what’ (e.g. programming languages, design tools, etc.) and can be described by operational descriptions.

Skills The ‘ability to carry out managerial or technical tasks’ – which are components of competences and specify some core abilities that form a competence.

Attitude The ‘cognitive and relational capacity’ (e.g. analysis capacity, synthesis capacity, flexibility, pragmatism, etc.) plus the motivation to do something. Skills and knowledge are the main components of competence, whereas attitudes are the glue, binding them together.


Views and opinions expressed are those of Small Business Standards (SBS) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or EFTA. Neither the European Union nor EFTA can be held responsible for them.