The introduction of new laws will see qualification fraud be made into a punishable offence in South Africa.

The National Qualifications Amendment Bill, which is currently waiting to be signed off by President Cyril Ramaphosa, aims to create grounds for punishment for individuals who fabricate their qualifications – with up to five years of jail time.

The bill will also hold institutes accountable if found misrepresenting qualifications or issuing unregistered qualifications.

LexisNexis Data Solutions’ GM, Rudi Kruger, said the organisation welcomed the introduction of the bill, which he says ‘will reap positive results for South Africa’.

“The foreseeable benefits of this proposed policy are immeasurable as the standardisation of CV verification will ensure accuracy and no room for deviation, in both the public and private sectors,” he said.

“In a country that is reeling from mismanagement, it is reassuring to know that deterrents are being put in place to prevent inappropriate and unqualified individuals from securing unsuitable positions.

“Furthermore, genuine qualifications will be treated with respect and our universities will retain their position in the global rankings.”

Kruger said that of all CV embellishments uncovered by RefCheck – LexisNexis’ reference checking service – it is qualification fraud that features most prominently.

Qualification fraud is the most prevalent type of misrepresentation on CVs, Kruger said, highlighting the following forms:

  • Non-existent matric certificates;
  • Inflated education;
  • Unfinished degrees;
  • Fake degree certificates.

Kruger said background screening has also assisted employers with confronting fake employment certificates, incorrect past roles and responsibilities, inflated job titles, undisclosed criminal records and inflated salaries, although many of them are not aware of these transgressions.

“Technology is available to assist with the background screening of new/potential hires. Screening is a highly useful pre-employment step that every organisation should employ in its recruitment plan,” he said.