You’ve hired the perfect candidate with a glowing CV and phenomenal qualifications to boot. But are you really 100% certain that you’re getting what is written on paper? Businesses who don’t conduct background checks could find themselves employing Mr. Hyde instead of Dr Jekyll.
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Director and CEO of Managed Integrity Evaluations (MIE), Ina van der Merwe who founded her business in 1988 out of her home garage with only a typewriter and a fax machine and has successfully grown the business year-on-year understands the risks that businesses face when employing.
She expertly answers our questions around exactly what qualification fraud is and how you could be opening up your business to possible risks.
1. What is qualification fraud?
Qualification fraud is the altering, forging or purchasing of any qualification which an individual has not achieved and / or completed. It is when a person goes out of their way to obtain a falsified qualification.
Falsified, invalid and inconsistence qualifications include those which have been purchased from a ‘degree mill, altered to reflect better results or simply included on a CV with no physical or recorded evidence
2. How rife is it in SA?
Qualification fraud is fast becoming a significant problem in South Africa – increasing by 200% over the last five years (2009 – 2014) and impacting even the highest executive levels. MIE processes a large number of qualification verifications through the National Qualification Register (NQR®) each year.
We have also found that 16% of people lie about their qualifications, whether it be adding a subject which they never completed or changing the completion date to reflect that they finished earlier than they did.
Qualification fraud can take a number of forms from altering symbols to reflect better marks to including a qualification on a job application with no physical or recorded evidence of ever completing and passing the respective course. Some individuals even go as far as to purchase a forged qualification from a ‘degree mill’.
Qualification Fraud is a criminal offence and can therefore result in prosecution with a prison sentence of between five and 10 years.
4. What are the risks to companies?
Companies which employ candidates who do not have the necessary qualification for the position they have been hired to fill, face serious financial and litigation risks. Examples of such risks include costly investigations, malpractice investigations and legal battles as well as reputational damage and reduced productivity.
Employers should also consider the possibility of a dishonest employee, who has committed fraud by lying about his / her qualification, potentially committing fraud within their organisation.
5. How can companies protect themselves
Companies can protect themselves from the above mentioned risks by partnering with a reputable background screening company.
At MIE, we urge companies to include the background screening process by a reputable background screening company during their hiring process. We don’t only verify qualifications, we also verify identification documentation and conduct credit checks and criminal checks.
All these checks can assist a company in hiring a candidate who is not only qualified, but also has a clean criminal record and clean credit history (especially if this person has applied for a position in finance).
6. How does the background screening process work?
To conduct a background check, companies provide us with specific information and the candidate who we are vetting signs a consent form. We then verify the candidate’s claimed qualification against the National Qualifications Register (NQR®).
With a database of over 3.5 million graduate records and 28 subscribing tertiary institutions, NQR® verifications are renowned for being quick, accurate and reliable. MIE processes a multitude of qualification verifications through the NQR®.
7. What are the cost / rewards vs risks of using or not using background screening?
The cost, and reputational risk, of hiring an employee who is not appropriately qualified for a position within your company far exceeds the cost of background screening.
Vetting a candidate is a once off fee, whereas investigations into an employee’s background and / or malpractice and regaining the trust of clients and the public is likely to result in the ongoing investment of time and money.
How Your Company Can Easily Attract Fresh Talent
Well, there are many ways to go about attracting fresh talent, the easiest of which are…
The minds that are walking out of university these days have so much potential and power which many companies are longing for. Fresh new minds that are eager to start working and applying themselves in the “real” world. The best interests of your company lie in attracting this fresh batch of millennial talent. So how exactly could you do that?
Provide opportunities to learn
Millennials are after experience and career growth. They want to know that the company they will be working for is prioritising that journey. And what better way to encourage them on their career path than providing learning opportunities within the business?
A few of the main ways companies provide their employees with opportunities to learn are through internships, learnerships and mentorships.
- Internships: An internship is like a pre-entry level position where interns have an opportunity to learn the ropes and figure out if this is, in fact, the industry or career they want to be building a career in. This is an extremely valuable and appreciated opportunity for most graduates and a way for companies to easily spot talent. If both parties are happy with how the internship has been carried out, all the employer needs to do is offer up a permanent post.
- Learnerships: What is a learnership? And what are the benefits of a learnership in a company? A learnership is an educational training programme that companies offer to employees which allows them to gain work experience while learning industry-relevant theory. It’s more than a basic internship as learnership jobs can lead to a registered NQF qualification. This is beneficial to the company as they can be certain that all their employees are equally knowledgeable about their work and millennial applications will be flooding in for the opportunity to add further education and experience to their CVs through this opportunity.
- Mentorships: Fresh minds are still newbies in the business and want to know that they’ll be taught (not spoon fed). This is where companies can offer mentorships that new employees can work with seasoned employees to gain business tips and insights that will help them become better. This is what graduates are looking for, an opportunity to learn from the best in order to be the best.
Be an innovative environment
You can’t expect to attract fresh minds and creative talents when your company lacks an innovative environment. People want to know that they will be challenged and inspired every day by their work environment. And it’s not about working overtime to keep your new employees stimulated, but about making sure they have the resources, creative team members and freedom to think outside of the box.
They need to know that their innovation will be encouraged and supported. When advertising for vacancies, don’t be afraid to mention some of the innovative projects you’ve done. It will definitely excite any innovative minds on the job-hunt and those are the types of people you need to elevate your company.
Provide flexible work schedules
Flexibility is the work-trend at the moment and young people are looking for flexibility from their jobs. Being flexible with your work schedules is in your company’s best interest for more reasons than just the talent you’ll be attracting:
- Discourage the turnover rate of employees as they will have an increase in employee satisfaction.
- Increase in productivity from punctual and purposeful employees.
- And there will be an opportunity for extended business hours to increase customer satisfaction.
If you offer and implement it in the right way, flexible working hours are probably the easiest way to retain current and attract new talent to your company.
Be digitally relevant
Having the latest technology and digitally-advanced business processes shows new talent that you’re all about adapting to the constantly changing environment. They will want to work for you because this strive for relevance means they will constantly have opportunities to improve and find new ways of taking the company and industry forward.
Start by improving your office processes and being more digitally savvy. The more “ancient” your ways of doing things, the less fresh talent you’ll attract. People don’t want to sit and struggle through admin when their time could be spent on something more useful and relevant to the current era.
By making the most of technology, it also shows that your company chooses to be “green” with how they conduct business. And being part of a “save the planet” movement while doing your day job is what most young people strive to do these days.
Every company can easily attract fresh talent by implementing the above practices. And the resources that are spent is nothing compared to the revenue these new minds can potentially bring in by being part of your company.
Youth Employment An Opportunity
South Africa has a high youth unemployment rate – it is vital for business to consider alternatives for youth employment.
A young female graduate with hands-on experience in setting up and running community projects, had resourcefully turned a hobby into an income-generating small business to support herself, while seeking employment… a skilled person, wouldn’t you say? It took her five long months to find employment – and in that time she received 50 rejections – 50 rejections with no useful feedback as to why she was being turned down. We employed her – and within the first few days she’d surpassed our expectations, had added ‘value’, so much so, that two weeks later we assigned her to a project.
It’s this kind of potential that company recruitment approaches seem to overlook!
There are 6-million unemployed young people in South Africa – and the social and economic transformation economy that is crucial for the country, is an economy that has been growing at less than the minimum 5-6 percent required to shrink unemployment, largely due to the under-performance of main institutions.
Business accustomed to turning problems into opportunities of value-creation regards the South African Education and Training system as one that does not deliver in equipping young people with the requisite work and readiness skills. There are government tax breaks and grants which provide opportunities for short term employment, but unfortunately these do not create value, nor are they sustainable as they are not used strategically.
Last year I had the good fortune to attend the Youth Employment Enterprise Skills Solutions (YEESS) summit in Nelson Mandela Metro – engaging with the young attendees I found that they were determined to change the view held by business that they are considered a risk, to one which recognises that they can, and do, add value and assist in realising opportunities, particularly because of their age -related attributes that give them the edge.
- are a cost advantage – they cost less (South African staff is paid on the basis of the years of work rather than the value)
- have a higher level of energy – they work faster and for longer hours
- have flexibility – they learn new tasks /systems quickly, and are often more innovative
- can increase revenue – they enjoy engaging with customers, and being ‘entrepreneurial’ (eager to promote products and services in the market)
Business should consider these opportunities – the model that many businesses currently use pays young people a stipend which usually just covers their living costs and employs them for a short period; and then the norm is to “find” something for them to do to keep them busy… a soul-destroying experience that in no way creates value and is certainly not one on which to build a career.
Alternatives to the existing model are to:
- clearly pinpoint the opportunities and define the value (that the potential employee is required to add)
- provide training – measuring potential is a challenge – a short training programme for job-seekers can clearly identify the ones who benefit most, and are thus likely to be the most valuable – and there is the plus of 4 BBBEE Skills development points for the training of unemployed people
- provide a ‘proving’ period (3 to 12 months) where goals, expectations and support are clearly laid out -this provides an important business foundation experience in a productive environment considerably improving the chances of the young person’s absorption into the business culture.
By changing the way one views youth unemployment – to see youth employment rather as an chance to reduce costs, increase revenue and contribute to the building of skills and training future entrepreneurs – presents the perfect opportunity for business to contribute to the country’s future stability and gain economic returns.
Temporary Employment Providers — Friend or Foe?
Contrary to the fact that legislation states that temporary employees work under a dual relationship between a TES provider and their client, the relationship has been questioned, confusing the situation and muddying the waters.
Currently, under a dual employment relationship, employees are given the protection of employment benefits under the TES provider and, after a three-month employment period, attain extra protection by being considered under the employment of both the TES provider and their client.
Yet various unions have pushed back against TES providers, citing that ‘labour brokers’ don’t have the best interests of the workers at heart. So, are TES providers truly the enemy — or could they be the solution?
What is a TES provider?
The term ‘labour broker’ is being bandied about with startling regularity. Surprising, because ‘labour brokering’ is actually a concept that no longer exists in legal terms, according to Joanette Nagel, Labour Specialist at Hunts Attorneys.
“It’s a term associated with ‘bakkie brigades’, those once comfortable picking up ‘piece workers’ and exploiting them with little to no consideration for labour laws,” Joanette explains. “Today’s TES providers are reputable organisations that, with the backing of the law and strict policies, provide a valuable service while ensuring that the rights and wages of temporary employees are in line with permanently employed staff.”
Sean Momberg, MD at Workforce Staffing Solutions, agrees: “A dual relationship where the employee is employed by both the TES and the client after three months means that the employee is actually afforded more protection. If, for example, the client falls into circumstances in which they can no longer honour the contract, such as if they go insolvent or a project is cancelled, the TES provider is still bound by contract to the employee and their rights to compensation, among others, are protected.”
The role of a TES in business
According to the Global Employment Trends for Youth 2017 study, conducted by the International Labour Organisation, the rapidly changing labour landscape has made the expectation of traditional or permanent employment less realistic than ever before.
“There is a global trend towards temporary employment that is supported by a new trend of flexibility in career choices as well as employment environments. The demand for TES providers to play a more active role in the labour market is higher than we have ever known,” affirms Sean.
Organisations will also benefit from this trend, especially as businesses can outsource all non-core related labour requirements, allowing them to focus on their core purpose and not concern themselves with the labour function, or the overheads associated with human resources. “A TES takes on the responsibility of employment, remuneration, legal disputes, strike mitigation, employee wellness, interactions with unions, and many other HR concerns that are extremely resource intensive,” says Sean.
A TES ensures economic continuation
“President Cyril Ramaphosa said in his recent YES initiative launch, that even those with further education often struggle to bridge the gap between learning and earning. TES providers help with bridging this gap, offering skills development that guarantees jobs,” notes Sean.
“TES providers are here to stay and offer the best of both worlds to organisations and employment seekers alike. Dual relationships continue to protect workers, underpinning and promoting their rights, while helping businesses to cover any skills and employment gaps within their organisations without having to invest in huge HR departments and legal representation to do so.”
Spotting a reputable TES provider
- Registered and compliant with the Labour Relations Act (LRA)
- Likewise with the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) and relevant bargaining councils
- Has the necessary insurance and off-balance sheet financial protection in place
- Able to provide proof of regular auditing
- Able to show full legal compliance and holds a letter of good standing.
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