Faking your qualifications is now a criminal offence

Faking your qualifications is now a criminal offence

Falsifying credentials is a great deal more serious than some may believe. It’s not just about mischievously deceiving a potential employer, playing a role to achieve an end, or simply a clever form of con-artistry – actually this scourge on South Africa’s already-pressurised economy is costing the country dearly, and now those found guilty of faking qualifications can be prosecuted.

Although not new, the problem seems to be on the rise and experts agree that as the economy struggles and unemployment levels increase, job prospects become scarcer and people go to extreme measures to get a foot in the door.

In 2017 the then Presidency Minister Jeff Radebe was quoted by Independent Online as saying: “As at the end of January 2017, a total of 1 276 qualifications (444 national and 832 foreign qualifications) were recorded on SAQA’s (South African Qualifications Authority) list of misrepresented qualifications, with 78 affidavits completed for handover to the Hawks for prosecution.”

Falsified CVs and other reference material

We don’t have an exact measurement of where those figures stand now, but suffice to say more and more businesses complain of misrepresentation, falsified CVs and other reference material as part of the recruitment process.

In a market in which skills remain in short supply, sourcing the right skill is only half the task completed. Today, employers have to go above and beyond to ensure who they are recruiting is who they say they are, from their personal backgrounds right through to their qualifications and career experience.

There is a lot riding on the National Qualifications Amendment Bill, recently signed into law by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

According to SAQA, “The NQF Amendment Bill aims to protect the integrity of the South African education and training system by giving SAQA the legal responsibility to verify qualifications and part-qualifications (an assessed unit of learning that is registered as part of a qualification.)”

Misrepresenting your qualifications could lead to a harsh fine, or up to five years in prison

This means that South Africans who are found guilty of misrepresenting their qualifications could face a harsh fine, up to five years in prison, or both.

This is not limited to a CV, but could also include making the claim on social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter.

Anyone, not just employers, can report people making false claims to SAQA, which will publish a national name and shame list of fraudulent credentials.