Unionlearn welcomes continued skills funding for low-waged workers

Unionlearn has welcomed the government’s decision to stretch the funding trial for low-paid workers education and training for another year.

The low-wage threshold has been increased to £16,009.50 from 1 August 2019 onwards. Workers, both full-time and part-time, whose salary is below this threshold can access free for courses at level 1 and 2, including ESOL courses. The scheme covers vocational courses at level 1 and 2 and academic qualifications up to GCSE level. Previously many of those aged over 19 had to pay 50% of the course fees for such qualifications.

The funding rule applies to residents in England outside the Mayoral Combined Authorities (MCAs) except for the Greater London Authority (GLA). This is due to the devolution of adult education budgets from August 2019 onwards to Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region, West Midlands, Tees Valley, West of England, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough and the GLA. The MCAs and the LGA will be publishing their own funding rules regarding these budgets.

However, the London Mayor has already publicised the commitment to lift the salary threshold to the London Living Wage. This means that from next August access to fully funded courses will be available to London residents aged 19+ earning less than £20,572.50 a year.

Unionlearn policy officer Kirsi Kekki said: “The funding has already benefitted low-wage earners so the move to keep the scheme going is welcome news. For union learning reps this is an opportunity to make use of the funding and support learning in the workplace by directing their colleagues to take advantage of the free learning opportunities.

“The TUC is now calling the Mayoral Combined Authorities to follow suit and adopt the approach of topping the funding threshold to Living Wage in their areas.”

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