Thousands of low wage earners in the West Midlands are set to benefit from a new adult education funding policy.
The Department for Education is to trial a scheme allowing education providers to offer free courses for anyone earning less than £15,726.
Previously, they would have had to pay half the cost, which has deterred many wanting to improve their qualifications and boost their chances of getting a better paid job.
West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) figures show there are 531,000 jobs in the region whose occupants could benefit from the new funding package.
The scheme will begin in the new academic year – from September 2018 and will initially run for a year.
Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street said: “As a region we need to close the output gap between the West Midlands and the rest of the UK.
“This gap is partly due to the comparatively high proportion of residents with low skills and few qualifications - this scheme will help tackle that.
“We want to ensure that our residents can benefit from the higher skilled an higher paid jobs that are being created in the region – improving qualification levels of those in low paid jobs will help do this”
Cllr George Duggins, leader of Coventry City Council and WMCA portfolio holder for skills and productivity, said: “Affordable adult education is hugely important in getting people out of low-paid work and into better paid jobs.
“There are undoubtedly many people in this region with great potential and wanting to better their qualifications who may have previously been put off by the cost of doing so.
“Bringing down that cost will help, and by investing in people we invest in our future.”
More details of the scheme can be found at https://www.gov.uk/education/adult-education-funding