Rejecting a CV because of a typo is “out of date” and penalises neurodiverse job candidates, former health secretary Matt Hancock has said.
Mr Hancock, who has dyslexia, is pushing for a new government strategy to change the way the learning difficulty is seen and dealt with in Britain.
Speaking to an audience at the 2022 Dyslexia Show in Birmingham, he said that bosses should look at “someone’s real capability of doing a job, not a proxy for it”.
Mr Hancock added: “People often use your straightline writing as a proxy for capability. Of course, there is a category of jobs for which that is critical, but there are other jobs where what you need is a creative brain and the computer can do the spell check.
“It is out of date to throw a CV in the bin because of a typo.”
The former government minister said that the failure to diagnose dyslexia was a “quiet social scandal” and caused a “massive, unaffordable waste of economic potential in the country”.
The British Dyslexia Association estimated in 2019 that 80 per cent of dyslexic children leave school undiagnosed. This was the case for Matt Hancock, who was only diagnosed with dyslexia when he reached university.
“I always knew there was a problem because I found reading difficult,” he told The Daily Telegraph. “The letters would jumble around, and still do, but I just thought that I wasn’t very good at language.”
He said that his abilities in maths “got me to Oxford” and that it was a tutor at the university who spotted that his writing wasn’t up to standard. He was screened and “re-learnt how to read” with specialist help.
Mr Hancock said that he had tried to keep his leaning difficulty a secret for two decades, even during his time working for the Bank of England and as a junior minister. “Shame is the right word,” he said. “I had a practical worry that I wouldn’t get on in my career and then I had an emotional barrier to talking about it which was shame.”
It was when his new private secretary at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport told him he too had dyslexia that Mr Hancock realised he had a duty to speak publicly about it.
He said that he wanted to show dyslexic children and adults that they could still “make it to the top”. He is now calling for universal screening for dyslexia in schools, better teacher training and a greater focus on reading in prisons.