Fake qualifications? You will be caught

This year has seen a number of high-profile officials named and shamed publicly for not having the qualifications they claimed they did

destinyconnect.com - Buhle Ndweni

24 November 2014

SABC’s Chief Operating Officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng does not have a matric certificate. The broadcaster’s chairwoman Ellen Tshabalala’s CV stated she had a B Comm degree from the University of South Africa (Unisa) and a post-graduate degree in labour relations – she doesn’t have either qualification. A few months ago Pallo Jordan resigned from Parliament after it emerged that he did not have a post-graduate degree from the London School of Economics as his CV stated he did.

The latest case is that of the newly appointed acting CEO of South African Airways, Nico Bezuidenhout, whom the Democratic Alliance says has neither a BCom in transport economics and industrial psychology nor the MBA he claims he does.

All these people appear to have gotten away with faking their credentials for years, but they couldn’t get away with it forever.

Alexis Petje, manager of Business Development and Social Media at background screening company MIE says lying about qualifications is quite prevalent.

MIE verifies qualifications and conducts other backgroundchecks on behalf of recruitment agencies. Petje says in 2013 MIE performed 2,6 million verifications and in the 26 years of their existence they have performed 6 million credential checks.

Petje says overall from 2012 to 2013 an average of 16% of job seekers lied about their qualifications, a slight increase on previous years.

But which qualifications from which institutes are mostlikely to be used fraudulently?

“Africa and international qualifications have a 50% riskallocation,” she says.

All we need is the candidate’s name, surname, ID number and the name of the qualification

Petje says MIE’s background screening can determine whether a person actually registered for a qualification and if they obtained it.

“All we need is the candidate’s name, surname, ID number and the name of the qualification,” she says.

What are the legal implications of lying about one’s qualifications?

As if lying about a qualification is not bad enough, some people actually produce fraudulent qualifications documents.

Petje says these individuals are taken to The SouthernAfrican Fraud Prevention Service where a fraud case will be opened. “The personwill get listed for three years during which time they are not likely to get ajob. This is serious because even the big banks will see this when they do a background check,” she warns.

Companies such as MIE also check whether a person has acriminal record. “We also confirm whether a person really has a valid driver’s license and check employment references by calling the listed referees and doing extensive interviews to find out if the person is competent.”

Joe Samuels, chief executive of the South AfricanQualifications Authority (SAQA) said this week: “African countries are facedwith the growing problem of qualifications fraud.”

SAQA held a two-day seminar in Pretoria this week. Samuels said that through the seminar, participants hoped to set up a network in Africa for the verification of qualifications so that fraudulent practices could be countered.

“The verification process on SAQA’s side can take between 10and 20 days. The processes can become longer when we have to wait forinformation from the country where the qualification was obtained,” Samuelssaid.

“In some instances, we would send a verification query in2007, and only receive the response in 2011. . . that is how long it would takein some of the countries.”

SAQA is tasked with evaluating foreign educational qualifications to determine their South African equivalence.

People with foreign qualifications who wish to attend South African education institutions or enter the labour market apply to SAQA to have their qualifications evaluated.

“I advise every company or institution to verify educational qualifications and their authenticity before hiring a candidate,” Samuels said.

Additional source: Sapa

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