Unions have slammed Conservative plans to scrap the union learning fund, which helps workers access basic skills courses.
The union learning fund promotes activity by trade unions that supports the government's objective of creating "a learning society". It aims to strengthen the role and importance of learning within the workplace and drive up the demand for skills.
Usdaw said the proposed cut would dramatically reduce the union's ability to deliver workplace learning schemes that have helped more than 10,000 students return to learning.
"We live in a technological age and our courses are designed to build work-related skills and encourage personal development which makes sure our members are not left behind in the job market," said John Hannett, Usdaw general secretary. "I'm disgusted Michael Howard wants to scrap this fund which helps those let down so badly by the Tories when they were last in power.
"Workplace learning programmes are also good news for employers promoting the schemes who report staff turnover dropping and a boost in staff morale," he said.
TUC general secretary, Brendan Barber, said the plans would deny a generation of British workers access to education and a chance to improve their lives.