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Dyslexic individuals could help tackle skills crisis

Tapping into the way dyslexic people view and interact with the world could help companies meet future business challenges, according to a report by EY and charity Made by Dyslexia

Cognitive flexibility, creativity, visualisation and complex problem-solving – all recognised as key strengths of dyslexic individuals – are skills that will be increasingly in demand over the next few years, the report said.

However, while there are more than 6.6 million people in the UK with the condition, the report found that businesses could do more to help these individuals reach their full potential, including shaping a workplace culture that actively encourages and supports dyslexic people.

The Value of Dyslexia report also concluded that policymakers and schools need to bolster their efforts to better identify dyslexic students early on, and should consider introducing more supportive ways of teaching them to help cultivate this untapped talent.

Often if dyslexic individuals don’t receive appropriate support at home or at school during their formative years they lack confidence later in life, which can affect their career prospects over the longer term, the report argued.

Kate Griggs, founder and CEO of Made by Dyslexia, hopes the report will help employers recognise the potential of those with dyslexia.

“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,” she said.

Griggs added that dyslexic people encounter a number of issues early in life that can stop them from reaching their full potential.

“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,” she said.

Steve Varley, EY’s UK and Ireland chairman and managing partner, said that by embracing neurodiversity businesses will help themselves become more innovative.

“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,” he said.

"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 research to call for better understanding and support to ensure that future creatives, entrepreneurs and problem-solvers are given opportunities to realise their potential – starting at school and running right through to the world of work. Researchers claim the report is the first of its kind as it was carried out solely by a team of individuals with dyslexia at EY.