Why GCHQ employs dyslexic and dyspraxic spies

With one in 20 children diagnosed with dyspraxia and four to eight children with some form of dyslexia (NHS figures), it was good to read the news this weekend that the surveillance agency, GCHQ, positively promote their recruitment of those with “neuro-diverse” traits, rather than discriminate against them.

The Sunday Times reported that GCHQ regularly recruits dyslexic and dyspraxic staff to work against cybercriminals, foreign spies and terrorists, relying heavily on employees with the ability to solve complex problems often found in those affected with these conditions.

The surveillance agency employs 5,300 staff with a third of its intelligence analysts currently working to combat terrorism emanating from the Middle East; presently 120 employees have dyslexia and dyspraxia. An officer at GCHQ said said neuro-diverse individuals can bring additional value to the full spectrum of roles and jobs across the department.” He continued by saying its demand for such skills – and that of the commercial sector in general – considerably eclipses the number of graduates qualified in these fields.

The agency has reportedly allocated 80 intelligence officials to approach 20 primary schools and secondary schools throughout Britain in an effort to encourage children to pursue science, engineering, mathematics and technology-based subjects, particularly amongst female pupils.

GCHQ starts its yearly autumn recruitment programme on Tuesday, hoping to hire as many as 80 new apprentices aged 18 and upwards. While some may argue that specifically targeting those with these learning traits is against human rights, I can only see that at last a positive message is shining through for those diagnosed with these conditions.

And very good to know that the negative voices, such as that of Rod Liddle’s in The Spectator article which appeared earlier this year, are being well and truly challenged.

This article is in support of Dyspraxia Awareness Week from 12–18 October, with the charity’s first Funky Friday planned for 17 October.

Mike Sandiford
Head of Partnerships
0207 193 9931

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