New charity app launched to plug UK skills gap

ASTRID aims to connect those looking for workers with those looking for work

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A new charity app has been launched as an attempt to narrow the UK skills gap by connecting employers with skilled workers suffering from long-term health issues.

The app - ASTRID - would address the major need for more professionals with digital skills by enlisting those who may have trouble holding down a full-time job, but can still offer their expertise on a freelance or part-time basis.

A lack of skilled candidates is one of the biggest concerns for companies in the UK and globally, with a lack of trained employees in areas such as cybersecurity leaving many businesses exposed to potentially devastating threats.

The app was founded by David Shutts, who was diagnosed with stage four kidney cancer and spent the next two years developing ASTRID to help others in a similar situation.

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More than 700,000 people of working age are living with cancer in the UK, according to Macmillan, and others are prevented from working by long-term illnesses such as heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis. Through this app, Shutts wants to create a win-win situation by giving these people the chance to return to work and helping companies in need of skilled individuals at the same time.

recent study by Brocade revealed that a quarter of IT departments feel they aren't able to deliver on the current demands of their business because of a lack of skills, and 54% are concerned about the apparent lack of candidates there are to choose from.

In fact, Britain's digital skills gap is ranked as one of the worst in the world (31.6% share of cyber security job seekers), according to a study by job search website Indeed. Meanwhile, the US (66.7%) and Canada (68.1%) sit at more than double the UK's share.

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