The changing world
The world of work is changing, and changing fast.
With a revolution in the skills both society and employers need already underway, there will be significant growth in demand for flexible skills in a highly collaborative and interdisciplinary environment, and the need for a transformative approach to build an increasingly diverse talent pool.
People with the ability to thrive in this new order are in high demand and short supply.
The value of dyslexia
How does dyslexia fit in against this backdrop of change?
Our report shows that there is a significant opportunity for employers to broaden their talent pool and harness the strengths of dyslexic individuals, who already have some of the skills that will be needed in the workplace of the future.
Dyslexia influences at least 1 in 10 people1 and is a genetic difference2 in an individual’s ability to learn and process information. As a result, dyslexic individuals have differing abilities, with strengths in creativity, problem solving and communication and challenges with spelling, reading and memorising facts. Generally, a dyslexic cognitive profile will be uneven when compared to a neuro-typical cognitive profile – which means that dyslexic individuals really do think differently.
What does this mean in work?
These varied cognitive profiles give dyslexic individuals natural abilities to form alternative views and solve problems creatively. Heightened cognitive abilities in certain areas, such as visualisation and logical reasoning skills and natural entrepreneurial traits3 can bring a fresh, often intuitive perspective.
Dyslexic strengths align closely with business needs and can become part of the talent solution. A greater awareness of these strengths, neuro-diverse abilities, and skills needed in the future, can help educators facilitate and employers capture, untapped talent.
However, the challenges, rather than the strengths, of dyslexia are more commonly thought of, which can generate negative perceptions in education and employment. Such stereotypes can influence whether dyslexic individuals reach their full potential, and can also prevent some organisations from realising the full value of dyslexic strengths.
A change in the perception of dyslexia can help build a talent pipeline that is adaptable to the changing world of work. Over time, we would like to think that a strengths-based approach would become part of day-to-day life.
Dyslexic strengths align to core work-related skills and abilities of the future
The way forward
First, there must be a recognition of the strengths dyslexia brings, rather than a focus on just the challenges. This should be a priority for leaders, because clear leadership is key to creating a psychologically safe7 environment where dyslexic strengths can flourish.
The next step is to improve the availability of, and access to, dyslexia screeners, assessments and information. These can really help dyslexic individuals by providing self-help and a useful resource for recognising, understanding and supporting their potential in education and employment.
Finally, employers should implement a neuro-diverse talent strategy, and adopt a strengths-based approach to hiring, talent, and work on a day-to-day basis, focusing on:
- Build capability: Determine how dyslexic strengths can be deployed in the organisation to help meet business objectives.
- Target performance: Use assistive technologies, tailored processes and a specific strengths-based performance criteria to enable dyslexic individuals to perform exceptionally.
- Drive motivation: Adjust workplace design and provide support, coaching and mentoring schemes to build dyslexic confidence.
- Enhance efficiency: Train managers to recognise, facilitate and accompany dyslexic strengths to achieve greater organisational and individual productivity.
*Please refer to page 8 of the report for ‘scale of skills demand 2020’ figure
1Better Training, Better Teaching, Dyslexia International 2014 p.2
2Connecting The Dots, Made By Dyslexia 2017 p.7
3Dyslexic Entrepreneurs: Their Incidence; Their Coping Strategies and Their Business Skills, Logan, J 2009 p.17
4Future of Jobs Survey, The Future of Jobs, The World Economic Forum 2016 p.22
5Core Work-Related Skills, The Future of Jobs, Occupational Information Network/The World Economic Forum 2016 p.52-53
6Connecting The Dots, Made By Dyslexia 2017 p.13-14
7The Two Traits of the Best Problem-Solving Teams, Reynolds, A and Lewis, D. 2018