High demand for background screening sees 6.77% growth in 5 years

Managed Integrity Evaluation (MIE), the largest background screening and vetting company in Southern Africa, says uptake of background screening has experienced a steady overall growth of 6.77% over the past five years. 

This is according to the findings from the company’s seventh annual Background Screening Index (BSI) report released today.

The growth experienced in these market services is not surprising, according to MIE’s CEO, Ina van der Merwe: “This is owing to an increasing awareness by government and business as to the potential reputational and financial risks of making bad staff or supplier appointments – and the desire to mitigate and manage business risks as far as possible.”

The seventh edition of MIE’s annual BSI report is based on the data from the company’s vetting services conducted between 01 January and 31 December 2017. During this time, MIE completed a total number of 2 869 637 transactions.   

“Although volumes of certain checks have decreased slightly, when compared to data from 2016, this is in line with the tougher economic climate and fewer new employment or appointment opportunities being created over the 2017 period. It is, however, still positive to see that, despite clear strain being felt in the economy and marketplace, organisations see the value of making use of background screening,” adds van der Merwe. 

“Regardless of how the macro environments change, one thing that remains constant for all organisations is the need for dependable and trustworthy employees and suppliers.” – Ina van der Merwe, MIE

Highlights from the BSI report findings include:

  • Criminal records remain the most frequently requested check by MIE clients in South Africa.
  • MIE conducted 724 507 criminal checks during 2017, of which 9.91% were found to have a criminal or pending criminal record.
  • Over 52 000 candidates whose criminal records were checked had lied about having a record.
  • Apart from HR & Recruitment, which is across industries; the highest number of criminal check requests were in the Retail industry – yet Retail has one of the lowest associated risks.
  • The two sectors found to have the highest associated risk are Mining and Manufacturing.
  • 2017 also saw growing demand for criminal background checks within public sectors and SOEs.
  • Misrepresentation and fraud of qualifications remains high.
  • MIE conducted 552 871 qualification checks in 2017, where 14.3% of these checks were found to misrepresented, fraudulent or the transaction was cancelled.
  • Findings show that a candidate’s qualification(s) is the most likely aspect to contain discrepancies, when compared to other background screening checks.
  • MIE’s Global Screening Department’s data highlights that qualification verification is the most requested check across Africa.
  • Qualification discrepancies carried the highest associated risk across all 30 African countries that MIE operates in – highlighting the critical importance of doing cross border qualification checks.
  • Associated risks with confirmed credit checks has increased.
  • The volume of requested credit checks decreased in 2017, compared to data from 2016, where this is largely due to legislation changes in the National Credit Act Amendment 19 of 2014 (NCAA).
  • Overall, the potential risk associated with confirmed credit checks has increased to 18.08%.
  • Apart from HR & Recruitment, the highest volumes of credit check requested were in the Financial Services sector. This demonstrates that there is positive movement with new job opportunities being created. However, the risk associated with adverse financial history or bad credit in the sector remains high.
  • Supplier vetting uptake by MIE clients in South Africa has increased.
  • Globally, volumes across almost all screening categories have increased for 2017, although associated risks vary between each category.
  • Data availability and accessibility in Africa, as well as the lack of supporting regulation, are critical challenges for developing and growing the background screening industry further.

“Organisations today have to contend with economies, financial and business markets that are in a state of flux. However, and regardless of how the macro environments change, one thing that remains constant for all organisations – across any sector and in any region – is the need for dependable and trustworthy employees and suppliers,” says van der Merwe.

“It’s not surprising then that organisations across South Africa, and Africa, are finding real value in screening potential employees and suppliers prior to, or post-appointment – and are increasingly requesting comprehensive background screening checks. We expect this trend to continue as background screening becomes mainstream – and look forward to continuing to assist our clients in making intelligent personnel and procurement decisions,” concludes van der Merwe.


Download the BSI report here.