Is your education brand safe from qualification fraud?
The business was run out of China. Called ‘Overseas Students Assistant HD’, it was offering fake degree and diploma certificates from nearly 100 of Australia’s leading institutions, including 53 local TAFEs in vocational education and 42 higher education universities.
How? The certificates were on paper. The business promised to send forged certificates that were sourced from the same parchment providers as local education providers. The certificates looked as authentic as the real thing, and would easily convince an employer at a glance.
That is, if an employer did not bother to check the student’s qualifications.
The risk of unreality in the education market
While the year was 2015, it could be 2022. In a world of paper qualification certificates, there’s always the risk fake, forged certificates could be in circulation in the job market, getting ‘graduates’ of local education into jobs for which they don’t really have a qualification.
Whether that is on an industrial scale - like the offshore business exposed above - or just a single individual, the risk is always there. There could be bad actors in the market you operate in, claiming to have a qualification from your education provider to get a job.
They could be leveraging your reputation – and risking it at the same time.
That’s because it’s easy for those looking hard for work to get sucked into things like CV inflation, that can tip into actual fraud. To look better and outcompete to get that work opportunity, there’s the temptation to drop unearned qualifications into the mix.
While not in VET, the case of an individual employed as a Finance Manager for a not-for-profit group of companies in 2014 is a good example. The applicant applied for a position as an accountant indicating they had an MBA and were an associate member of the CPA.
The applicant ended up making a number of serious mistakes that lost the not-for-profit Public Benevolent Institution Status, and also caused internal strife that led to board member resignations. It was only after this, that the qualifications were found to be fake.
The Independent Commission Against Corruption has conservatively estimated that 25% of job seekers have inaccuracies on their CV. However, Monster’s 2019 State of the Recruiter survey found that 85% of recruiters said candidates exaggerate skills and competencies.
A survey on the subject done by US-based firm Checkster found78% of job seekers admitted they did or would consider misrepresenting themselves on their job application, while a CareerBuilder survey found that 75% of employers have caught a lie on a resume.
Digital certificates make things real
Digital certificates make lying about qualifications much harder. This is because they have verification built into their design. They can be verified immediately by an employer with the click of a button, ensuring only those who have real qualifications are hired for jobs.
This also saves employers time. Rather than having to spend time contacting educators to validate existing qualifications or student records, employers can make use of tech platforms to immediately validate these competencies – and get the worker on to the job fast.
This can be a boon if skills need to be verified in real-time – like on a construction site. Ultimately, it can ensure your education brand and reputation is safe from exploitation by bad actors, who may be counting on employers not to check because it is too hard.