Dyslexia is a learning difficulty that is often unnoticeable from onlookers but affects 6.6 million people in the UK – 700 million people globally. It’s said that those with dyslexia view and interact with the world slightly differently than those without. They are said to be more creative which should help companies overcome the potential skills shortage they are facing in the future.
The unique way dyslexic people view and interact with the world could help companies meet the challenges of business in the 21st century, according to a ground-breaking new report, by EY and the charity Made by Dyslexia.
Cognitive flexibility, creativity, visualisation and complex problem solving – all recognised as key strengths of dyslexic individuals – will become increasingly valuable as all sectors of industry embrace new technology in what is often termed the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’.
With more than 6.6 million people in the UK – just over one in ten – thought to have dyslexia, the potential is huge. However, the report found that businesses have a lot more to do to maximise the potential of dyslexic individuals in their workforce.
The Value of Dyslexia report highlights how key traits of dyslexic thinkers fit with the workforce strategy, skills and employment possibilities identified in the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs report (2016).
Developed with the support of charity Made By Dyslexia, the Value of Dyslexia report is the first research project of its kind and was carried out solely by a team of dyslexic individuals at EY.
Kate Griggs, founder and CEO, Made By Dyslexia said: “Our report clearly outlines the huge value in dyslexic thinking, and the important role it will play in the future. If we’re to prepare dyslexic individuals and enable them to flourish, we must ensure that educators and employers are enabled and empowered to recognise and support this valuable way of thinking.
“As this report finds, in education, a limited knowledge of dyslexic abilities and traditional approaches to exams can influence dyslexic individuals from reaching their full potential. This, coupled with a focus on dyslexic challenges, means that valuable dyslexic strengths are often missed. There needs to be a refocusing, now more than ever, of how dyslexic ability is viewed and nurtured.”
Steve Varley, EY’s UK chairman, added: “The report shows that dyslexic individuals already have some of the skills that will be in high demand in the future; among them, creativity, complex problem solving, and programming. A business where neurodiversity is better understood and the strengths of dyslexic individuals are harnessed, could well become more innovative and better placed for the rapidly changing world of work.”
Made By Dyslexia is using the report to call for better understanding and support in education to ensure that future creatives, entrepreneurs and problem-solvers are given the support to realise their potential – starting at school and running right through to the world of work.
The charity believes policymakers and schools need to bolster their efforts to better identify dyslexics early on, and consider introducing more supportive ways of teaching dyslexic students, to help cultivate this untapped talent. Often, if dyslexic individuals don’t receive the support they need either at home or at school during their formative years, they lack confidence later in life, which can impact their career prospects over the longer term, says the report.
The report also makes a series of recommendations for businesses to get the most out of their dyslexic employees. This includes guidance on hiring, how to nurture employees, and on how to shape a workplace culture that actively encourages and supports dyslexics.