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People with dyslexia have the skills to future-proof the workforce, research claims

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Companies can future-proof their workforces by employing people with dyslexia, new research has claimed.

In a report published Monday, consultancy EY used data from the World Economic Forum (WEF) and charity Made By Dyslexia to outline how dyslexic people's skills aligned with the skills that would be required in the workplaces of the future.

Referencing the WEF's prediction of which skills would be the most in-demand by 2022, EY's report highlighted how certain capabilities were becoming more and less useful to employers amid the rise of automation.

The need for processing and manual capabilities like time management, reading, math and active listening were on the decline, according to the report. Meanwhile, creative and social skills such as leadership, analytical thinking and technology design were increasingly in demand.

The report's authors also highlighted a slew of capabilities and skills typically seen in people with dyslexia that would be vital to all industries by the year 2022.

They included leadership, social influence, creativity, initiative and idea generation.

"Overall, our analysis shows that competencies for a significant number of jobs in the workplace that dyslexic individuals may typically find challenging will largely be impacted by forms of automation," the report's authors said.

"In their place, enhanced tasks and new jobs will be created that match closely to the strengths of dyslexic thinking. Dyslexia could provide an opportunity for organizations to bridge the skills gap of the future."

'Neurodiversity'

The report urged companies to take several steps to tap into the skillset of people with dyslexia, encouraging employers to "develop a neurodiverse capability that understands varying cognitive profiles."

"The alignment of automation, culture and neurodiversity could be the key to unlocking the value of dyslexia and the future organization," EY researchers said.

They called on CEOs and business leaders to share best practice and insight to capture the value of dyslexia, invest in clear automation and people strategies, and seek to create a neurodiverse workforce "that's fit for the future."

Neurodiversity refers to the different ways in which people's brains work and interpret information.

Commenting on the suggestions made by EY, Steve Hatch, vice president of Northern Europe at Facebook, said companies needed to support and celebrate workers who had alternative ways of thinking.

"Dyslexic thinkers are often able to see connections that others may miss and create narratives that can simplify complex products or tasks," he said in the report. "For organizations to successfully adapt, thrive and access these dyslexic strengths, there needs to be support for and celebration of a change and growth mindset. This mindset is a skill in itself and can often be more important than specific areas of experience."

"The skills companies need are evolving fast with a much greater focus now on empathy, creative thinking, innovative problem solving and being able to communicate and build relationships across multiple networks," added Laura Powell, global head of human resources for retail banking and wealth management at HSBC. "These are all areas that dyslexic people are known to excel at."

Meanwhile Jenny Lay-Flurrie, chief accessibility officer at Microsoft, told EY that people with dyslexia bring "invaluable expertise and strengths to every organization."

Earlier this month, billionaire Richard Branson credited dyslexia for some of his success as an entrepreneur, noting that people with the condition possessed the "skills of the future."

"My dyslexia has shaped Virgin right from the very beginning and imagination has been the key to many of our successes," he said in a blog post. "It helped me think big but keep our messages simple. The business world often gets caught up in facts and figures — and while the details and data are important, the ability to dream, conceptualise and innovate is what sets the successful and the unsuccessful apart."

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