Statistics so far this year reveal that there has been an increase in the number of businesses vetting potential and existing employees. However, this has not deterred countless individuals from committing qualification fraud.
“Candidates continue to lie and apply for positions for which they are simply not qualified,” says Ina van der Merwe, director and CEO of background screening market leader, Managed Integrity Evaluation (MIE).
She notes that, in addition to sheer desperation resulting from the high level of unemployment in South Africa – currently standing at 26., %, candidates may not fully realise the consequences of committing qualification fraud.
MIE’s 2015 Background Screening Index found that, over the last five years, South Africa experienced an 11% increase in demand for background screening services.
“MIE conducted approximately 470 000 qualification checks in 2015 and have vetted a further 300 000 qualifications from January to June 2016 alone,” Van Der Merwe says.
“From the increase in background screening services, it is evident that organisations are taking this epidemic more seriously and are taking the necessary steps to combat fraud to protect their businesses from associated risks. Despite that, we continue to see high levels of falsified information when screening candidate’s qualifications.”
In terms of the “biggest liars” for 2016 to date (January to June), the CEO shares that the trade industry sector recorded the highest percentage of qualification fraud once again.
She says: “Artisan qualifications such as those for boilermakers, electricians, plumbers, millwrights, riggers and slingers, fitter and turners, and machinists continue to hold the greatest risk when it comes to qualification fraud.
“High percentages related to fraudulent trade qualifications are followed by international and African qualifications, averaging 47% in the first half of 2016; National Secondary Department 30%; and tertiary short courses 29%.
“It is concerning that we still find so many candidates falsifying their academic information. Not only is this illegal, but if they are successful in securing employment in this way, they could put their employer at financial and reputational risk,” Van der Merwe explains.
In February this year, Higher Education and Training Minister, Blade Nzimande, aid government will take serious action against fly-by-night institutions and individuals who misrepresent their qualifications. He noted that his department was engaging institutions in the justice and judicial system to ensure that this practice is seen as a more serious offence.
Van der Merwe adds that, while qualification fraud is a serious matter and carries the same consequences as any other fraud (including jail time), businesses and recruiters often do not report it.