Trade organisation Industry Qualifications (IQ) has issued a call to the government to help tackle the problem with fraudulent qualifications within relevant UK industries, where licences are needed to work. The group noted that fraud in this regard actually poses a threat to public safety, since it’s vital we know those in charge of maintaining our safety have the appropriate qualifications and training, obtained through a system of assessment and accreditation.
IQ is now proposing an expert panel be set up to establish the extent of qualifications fraud in the system, as well as the nature of it, and to review regulatory mechanisms that are currently in existence for recording and disseminating information relating to those involved in malpractice and fraud. In addition, the panel would carry out reviews of the approach to fraud prosecution and the setting-up of protocols and procedures in conjunction with the police, so as to ensure effective prosecution.
Interestingly, even IQ itself has been a victim of qualifications fraud in the past. Back in 2015, the BBC exposed Ashley Commerce College as one organisation that submitted fraudulently produced examination and assessment frameworks. The qualifications from the college were linked with the security industry and as such were issued by IQ in accordance with established procedures and in good faith. However, these qualifications allowed some people to apply for a licence to work in the security industry.
“This was our first experience of confronting systematic fraud, and despite the BBC coverage, it has been very difficult to gain traction with the police and regulatory authorities which would lead to the criminal prosecution of those involved. The need for the qualifications regulator, Ofqual, to take a lead in the creation of an environment which both reduces the risk of qualifications fraud and deals emphatically with those involved when it occurs is self-evident,” chief executive of IQ Raymond Clarke commented.
Back in 2014, Cifas – a fraud prevention service – revealed that 63 per cent of all confirmed frauds recorded on the internal fraud database were actually employment application frauds, instances where job applicants made serious fraudulent declarations about their employment history, qualifications, criminal records and more.
As an applicant, it’s important to remember that if you do submit false or exaggerated information you could be dismissed or, in a worst case scenario, even face criminal charges as a result.
IQ recently (January 23rd) announced that the authorities have responded to the group’s request to focus on qualification fraud, saying that it is down to the awarding organisations and bodies to enforce robust procedures to help prevent this from occurring. However, IQ did note that the issue of fraud can only be tackled properly if the system as a whole is focused on identifying and reducing the opportunities for fraud.
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