Universities and colleges in Birmingham will be called on to retrain tens of thousands of workers hit by BMW's abandonment of the former Rover plant at Longbridge, it emerged this week.
Michael Wright, vice-chancellor of Aston University and a member of the task force set up to work out a regeneration plan in response to the Longbridge situation, said it was clear that there would be a "huge requirement" for retraining that was likely to fall mainly to further education colleges in the region.
But universities would also be involved, particularly in consultancy work on strategic and refinancing options, and providing expertise to back up the negotiations process on the future of the plant and its workforce.
Professor Wright revealed for the first time that the task force is considering the potential for re-employing some Longbridge workers in other industries that require related skills, such as the aerospace industry.
He said the further and higher education sector's involvement in tackling the regeneration challenge would increase substantially over the next few weeks.
Peter Knight, vice-chancellor of the University of Central England, said that he was worried that a substantial number of his institution's part-time students might be Longbridge workers who would be forced to drop out of university.
But, Professor Wright said: "One issue is to get support for part-time students to become full time so they can take advantage of any opportunities the task force may be able to provide."