Fighting credential fraud to ensure fair recruitment in Spain

Fighting credential fraud to ensure fair recruitment in Spain
03/08/2022 Alicia Pinto Pascual

Fighting credential fraud to ensure fair hiring in Spain

Even though Spain is making progress in the verification and authentication of licences and qualifications, it still has a long way to go to ensure fair recruitment and quality higher education for those looking to plan ahead and pursue their future goals.

Professions that belong to a regulated industry require authentication of any type of licence and certification, as outlined in Royal Decree 1837/2008 and EU Directives 2005/36/EC and 2006/100/EC. However, many positions in business, communications or computer programming, for example, do not have established industry requirements for applicants as regards their qualifications. Companies in these sectors instead prioritise candidates’ skills and abilities over their academical accomplishments or certifications. Thus, a professional who masters web development techniques without a degree is more likely to get a top job in programming than a graduate who does not have as much experience or skills in the field. Something similar happens with some professions in the communications sector. For example, not all Radio-TV broadcasters or presenters are university educated, as it is possible to work in the media industry upon completion of undergraduate courses.

This represents a major challenge for higher education in the country, as it results in the loss of value and recognition of both degrees and universities.

As an example, according to data provided by the annual report of the Foundation for Knowledge and Development in Spain in 2021, 36% of Spanish university graduates are working in a job that does not require their qualifications. More specifically, they end up working in positions that do not demand of them the level of knowledge and professionalism they have gained during their time at university.

The prevalence of false and forged qualifications in the country

False and fabricated university degrees are also a major problem. More and more professionals and public figures are now using fake credentials to apply for specific positions or inflate their reputation. Back in 2018, the government’s health minister resigned from her position after her degree was proven to be false, the president of the Community of Madrid at the time forged the grades of her master’s degree at The Rey Juan Carlos University and Pedro Sanchez, the current president of the government, claimed to have a Masters from a major university when it was only a course in Public Leadership. According to the newspaper ‘Okdiario’ “Sources at this private institute of higher education, located in Aravaca (Madrid), confirm that, in fact, it is not a master’s degree but a program entitled ‘Leadership Program for Public Management'”.

The proliferation of websites and online stores that offer the sale of fake qualifications is also a matter of fact. These fraudulent businesses provide all sorts of counterfeit documentation, which has no official validity whatsoever.

All of this, added to the abundance of educational institutions and business schools offering unofficial master’s degrees with high tuition rates, contributes to a situation of significant uncertainty when it comes to tertiary education and the labour market in the country.


In order to prevent the use of illicit credentials and avoid malpractice in the recruitment industry, it is important for higher education institutions to establish effective regulatory processes to identify fake qualifications.

Organizations, in turn, should be on the lookout for potential fraudsters and rely on the services offered by professional background screening companies such as Qualification Check to verify applicants’ qualifications. Finally, as has been done by various professional associations like professional colleges of journalism, it is necessary to limit the admission of unqualified professionals or those coming from other industries in order to protect and safeguard the standing of the profession. This will help in preventing non-qualified professionals or those in possession of illicit qualifications from practicing in unregulated sectors.

Do you need to verify a qualification obtained in Spain? Call Phil Dupont on +44 2038970956 or contact us at [email protected] for a swift resolution of that verification.

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