Businesses can help to futureproof their workforce and combat an impending digital skills gap by broadening their talent pools and employing dyslexic individuals, according to a new report by EY and the charity Made By Dyslexia.

The report, ‘The Value of Dyslexia: Dyslexic capability and organisations of the future’, highlights as an example the skills potential of more than 6.6 million dyslexic individuals in the UK – 1 in 10 of the population – who could help provide the critical support needed for employers to help them to adapt in the fourth industrial revolution.

Lead contributor of the report, Ben Cooke, and chair of EY’s Dyslexia Community, commented:

“The analysis demonstrates how dyslexic individuals can typically have strengths in a range of competencies, such as analytical thinking, creativity and innovation. These competencies have been identified by the World Economic Forum in the ‘emerging’ top 10 that will be required in the workplace in 2022.

"However, a limited understanding of dyslexia in organisations can often drive a negative association of ability. When understanding dyslexia from a skills-basis, we can broaden our understanding of dyslexia more generally to encompass both the challenges and potential strengths that come with really thinking differently. This could be the key for organisations to unlock the potential of workers that could help their business grow in the digital age.”

The report highlights the fundamental ways jobs are changing as organisations look to increase efficiencies. With growing investment in machine learning and automation, there will be significant shifts in the types of jobs and skills required, creating high demand for people with different minds to fulfil new jobs and careers.

A re-skilling imperative

The World Economic Forum’s latest Future of Jobs Report (2018), cites no less than 54% of all employees will require significant re- and upskilling by 2020 in order to fully harness the growth opportunities offered by the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Of these, about 35% are expected to require additional training of up to six months, while 10% will require additional skills training of more than a year.

Kate Griggs, founder and CEO of Made By Dyslexia said:

“Our report reinforces the importance of dyslexic thinking for the future. Businesses, and educators must ‘lean in’ and adapt their organisations and systems to embrace this change, and fast, if we are to truly build the workforce of tomorrow.”

What can employers do?

Employers are looking at different ways to bridge the emerging skills gap by applying non-traditional thinking to their own recruitment processes and casting the talent net wider; specifically to include neuro-divergent hires.

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The report calls on CEOs across the world to fundamentally change the way they approach those with dyslexia against a backdrop of rapid change, invest in a clear automation and people strategy that considers the skills and cultural needs of their organisation, and harnesses neurodiverse teams. Aligning dyslexic skills with culture and automation will be key to unlocking the value this talent pool can bring to future workplace demands.

Steve Varley, EY’s UK Chairman, commented:

“At EY we have seen the benefits of transforming our own recruitment processes to drive greater diversity within our workforce. Teams of people with different skills, experiences and perspectives add huge value to our clients and can equate to commercial advantage in the market.

“In 2015 we introduced a blind-cv policy and removed the academic entry criteria from our student recruitment process, which opened our doors to a wider pool of talent. Last year we went a step further by removing the conventional final interview for school-leavers and graduate applicants.

“I’m proud of the work that EY and Made By Dyslexia has done to highlight the talents of dyslexic and neurodiverse individuals and the value they have in the workplace of the future. We hope that it encourages other organisations to think differently and adopt more inclusive hiring and retention strategies.”

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