Over the past year, there have been a number of news reports exposing candidates in high profile positions across the public and private sectors who have misrepresented their qualifications. With the economy, and as a result the job market, under pressure to perform, market demand for criminal and educational background checks remains constant – as does the associated risks.
Managed Integrity Evaluation (MIE), CEO, Ina van der Merwe, says: “We looked at a snapshot view of the data from our vetting services conducted in the first ten months of this year and found that criminal checks were the most frequently requested check, followed by qualification or educational background checks.”
Since January 2017, MIE has conducted 604 497 criminal checks, where 9.77% of the total checks were deemed to have a criminal or a pending criminal record – which was also constant when compared to the data from the MIE 2016 Background Screening Index report.
MIE conducted over 462 000 qualification checks for 2017 to date. Of the total number of qualifications verified, 15.17% were found to be either fraudulent, misrepresented or cancelled. “What is interesting to note here is that there has been an increase in the number of qualifications being misrepresented by candidates,” adds van der Merwe. “In some cases, the dishonesty may be malicious, however it may also be a result of desperation and anxiety from those trying to secure employment in the tougher economic environment we are operating in.”
The types of qualifications most commonly found to be misrepresented, fraudulent or inconsistent included African (33.98%) and International (43.45%) qualifications – where too often candidates still believe that foreign qualifications will not be checked or verified. Misrepresentation or inconsistencies remains high on National Secondary Qualification (matric pre- 1992, at 25.47%), Tertiary Courses (23.17%), National Tertiary qualifications (14.55%) and Umalusi (matric post- 1992, at 13.88%).
“Hiring talent with the right qualifications, experience and skillsets for any appropriate position is critical to business success. What this data therefore demonstrates is that businesses need to be more vigilant in their human resource practices, by insisting on conducting comprehensive background screening checks – both pre- and post-employment by making it part of the HR Policy. Doing so will help the business to minimise and manage their potential financial and reputational risks associated with hiring the wrong candidate or an applicant with false credentials,” says van der Merwe.
MIE forecasts that comprehensive background screening and verification services on candidates, and suppliers and vendors to combat procurement fraud, will continue to grow across South Africa, and the rest of Africa.
“With growing public consciousness in both the media and society to be a watchdog over business and government antics, pressure continues to mount on businesses to perform ethically. Added to this, businesses are progressively more in the public eye in this age of the Internet and social media, and the need to assess whether a candidate or supplier is right for the business is more prevalent than ever. Businesses should therefore look to partner with a reputable service provider who can assist them in minimising and better managing their risks in this regard,” concludes van der Merwe.