Verifications in the UK - sizing the problem

By Chris Milligan

In our last post, we shed some light on the state of verifications in the UK, and why the existing process is fundamentally broken. Now, in typical FinTech fashion, we’re going to add some context by exploring the data.

Over the last few months, we’ve been analysing the market and mapping the data in partnership with Reed Screening. While we all “know” the process could be improved, the data tells the full story.

Let’s take a sample set up of 101,000 pre-employment verifications. These verifications require an exchange of information between a candidate, background checking company, and referee. The data and findings are laid out below and highlights some of the current issues in the process.

  • Of 101,000 requests sent, 66,000 (65%) contain some level of incorrect information, which would in part explain why only 40,000 (61%) requests are ever returned
  • The references which are returned, contain a broad range of errors, from containing dates only (as opposed to any qualitative information), having discrepancies between what is provided by the candidate and the referee, and requiring the background checker to access additional information sources to cross-check the information.
  • These errors are not mutually exclusive, which makes diagnosing and potentially fixing the issues even more difficult

All in all, only 33% of verifications are completed according to plan. The errors, which are mostly human-based, could be avoided with a more structured and connected process for data collection and comparison. A more automated solution would also offer benefits in turnaround time, data security, analytical insights, and ultimately cost-saving.

And what is the scale of those benefits? Well, in a recent employer survey, 64% of respondents believed that referencing will be the single slowest part of the hiring process as the verification process becomes digitised. With a labour force of 32 million, and around 20% thereof changing jobs every year, the UK is expected to have over 6 million people changing jobs every year. At that scale, saving even a fraction of the current time taken has undeniable benefits for all stakeholders involved in employment verification, as well as the wider economy.

Stay tuned for more information on what those benefits are, and how we’re planning on making them a reality in 2022.

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