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Opinion

Are rail leaders on track with Dyslexia? A recent event at the University of Derby raised awareness of the issues surrounding dyslexia in the workplace. Chris Nutty looks at how it’s handled in the rail industry

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he event was organised by Sarah Chapman, a Derby degree student and volunteer for the Dyslexia Association, an organisation that provides support and services for dyslexic children and adults, their parents/families, educators, employers and the wider community. Opening the event was designer and entrepreneur Sir Paul Smith, patron of the Dyslexia Association, who spoke about the positive affects the condition has had on his life and how ultimately, dyslexia has never held him back but instead made him more creative. Dee Caunt, chief executive of the Dyslexia Association spoke at a workshop on Dyslexia in the Workplace. She explained what dyslexia is and how, in most cases, there are simple solutions to deal with it. Also at the workshop, Amanda Wadsworth from the DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) highlighted the financial support the government can offer to employers with dyslexic staff, via the Access to Work scheme. Delegates included Richard Holiday, head of training and development at First TransPennine Express, which is currently recruiting individuals for its new rail apprenticeship programme and is ‘keen to attract people from a diverse

talent pool’. Said Holiday: ‘The Derby event provided some helpful insights into how we can assist the development of everyone, including identifying where our colleagues have specific needs.’ East Midlands Trains HR director, Clare Burles said: ‘I found the event interesting and informative. As a company we are always looking to support our staff’s CPD in any way we can, for example we work with Union Learning Skills for Life tutors who support our employees in achieving the level of numeracy and literacy they need to get through internal exams for promotion.’ Call to industry to enforce change According to the British Dyslexia Association, ten per cent of the British population is dyslexic, yet it still

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carries a stigma and is shied away from being openly dealt with by employers, particularly in the rail sector. Sarah Chapman organised the event to expel some common misconceptions about dyslexia and alert employers to the qualities that dyslexic employees can bring to the workplace. Said Chapman: ‘Although dyslexia can be challenging for some of the six million people that have it in the UK, with the right kind of support, their ability to compensate can be a significant component for success in business. There is a need to recognise that the few limitations associated with dyslexia are in fact obsolete and merely one facet of the condition.’ Sir Paul Smith believes the condition brings extraordinary abilities that enable him to visualise and create his designs. ‘These traits in reality are strengths and

Rail Professional April 2014