Maths graduates will be offered £20,000 to teach in colleges as part of a move to improve students’ numeracy.
Grants of about £9,000 will also be available to would-be college English and special educational needs (SEN) teachers, according to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).
Ministers said the move was part of a bid to improve the numeracy and literacy skills of those studying vocational courses at further education colleges and comes amid concerns from businesses about finding employees with good levels of maths and English.
Around 8.1 million people – 24 per cent of the working-age population in England – lack basic maths skills, the latest official figures show, while 5.1 million (15 per cent) struggle with literacy.
“Too many businesses tell me they cannot find young people with the numeracy and literacy skills they need," said Business Secretary Vince Cable.
"It's not just those planning on going to university who need to have a firm grasp of English and maths. These basic competencies are needed for all types of employment and it is not possible to enter a full apprenticeship until then."
In 2013/14, maths graduates who want to teach the subject in colleges will get £20,000 towards their initial teacher training, while those planning to teach English or specialise in teaching SEN students could get £9,000.
Responding to the announcement, Tim Thomas, head of Employment Policy at EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, said: “Offering bursaries to English and maths graduates will go some way to driving up the quality of teaching academic subjects, as well as vocational learning, in further education colleges.
“A good level of English and maths is a prerequisite for many jobs in manufacturing, yet employers still say some young people lack the numeracy and literacy skills needed to succeed.
“If the government wants to go further, it should now explore the merits in capping the repayment of fees of graduates that study these subjects and then go onto teach them.”
Joy Mercer, policy director at the Association of Colleges, said: "New bursaries will help colleges attract graduates so that they can support the many thousands of students who leave school without a GCSE Maths and English A-C grade every year.
"One million pounds in new grants to support professional development for those already working with students with special educational needs is equally welcome.
"Speed and longevity are of the essence; it is useful that the government has committed to initial teacher training grants for 2013/14 graduates so that colleges can start recruiting straight away, but funding has only been confirmed for the next two years and a short-term funding commitment risks limiting the benefits."