‘Rise in job applicants with criminal records’

JOBS2015 is proving to be a record year for credentials’ cheats with criminal record checks for prospective employees now topping 12%‚ up from 11% last year‚ according to a South African background screening company.

Even more disturbing is that 38% of the candidates who tested positive for a criminal record were repeat offenders‚ with some job applicants having up to 20 convictions‚ says Kirsten Halcrow‚ the managing director of EMPS.

Halcrow said furthermore that 7‚6% of tertiary qualifications submitted to her company for verification in the first half of 2015 were unverifiable.

In some instances the qualifications could not be verified as the institutions had long since ceased to exist‚ she said in a statement. In other instances the institutions had not kept accurate records which created issues and a majority were outright fakes – many bought from so-called degree mills in various parts of the world.

Forged matric certificates remained constant at around 10% with many actually being from the Department of Education but with symbols and subjects altered.

“The most common problem we find is that job applicants replace less desirable subjects to ones that are highly valued in the workplace such as maths and science.”

They are generally easy to spot because most of the alterations are amateurish‚ she said.

“Another issue we have to deal with is the growing number of fake South African IDs that are being used to secure jobs – mostly by illegal immigrants.”

She said despite efforts by the Department of Home Affairs to curb the sale of South African ID documents by dishonest home affairs staff‚ the practice had not been “stopped in its tracks” as promised by the ministry.

“These documents are almost impossible to verify because they were issued by home affairs and despite the fact that they are fraudulent they nonetheless appear on the home affairs database.”

Halcrow said the bottom line was that companies who did not check the veracity of documents tendered by job applicants were setting themselves up for a fall.

“We call previous employers to check the applicant’s employment record and‚ in the case of a dismissal‚ we check what the reasons were for the dismissal.”

Halcrow said honest job applicants had nothing to fear from employment screening companies. “Just the opposite is true. If a candidate applies for a position and he or she has already been screened‚ this enhances their chances to get the job.”

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