BAE Systems is to open a recruitment office in Birmingham in a drive to hire some of the workers losing their jobs following the collapse of MG Rover.

CBI director-general Sir Digby Jones welcomed the move, which he hoped would lead to a number of skilled workers remaining in the manufacturing sector.

Sir Digby, a member of the Rover Task Force, said he hoped that within a year most of the 6,000 workers at Longbridge who have lost their jobs will find other employment.

Around 140 independent dealers faced a "grim" future, which could also hit apprentices.

Sir Digby said the Government had a responsibility to ensure that apprentice workers at dealers could continue their training despite the crisis.

BAE Systems said later that Airbus, in which it has a 20 per cent stake, had taken part in recruitment meetings at Longbridge.

The main factory of the aircraft company is at Filton, near Bristol.

Meanwhile it emerged that an Iranian company could still make an offer for MG Rover.

Industry Minister Eshagh Jahangiri said: "We have asked Rover to provide us with the conditions of sale and, if these conditions are acceptable, we could still buy the firm."

"Taking into account the shortfall in capacity among Iranian manufacturers, we will perhaps be able to settle the Rover problem."

The Minister's comments contradicted denials of interest from both of Iran's two state-owned car groups Iran Khodro and Saipa.

Nevertheless, it remains unclear if Iran is potentially interested in buying the whole company or merely some of its technology assets.

It has been claimed that senior Ministers held a series of meetings with the Iranian Government before the collapse of MG Rover, hoping to clear the way for a deal that could have doubled Rover's worldwide production and perhaps saved the company.

It was also emerged yesterday that spouses and partners of former MG Rover workers are being given the chance to study for free.

Nick Paul of the Rover Taskforce said: "We have been very mindful that the impact of closure does not just affect workers, but their families as well. This gives them the opportunity to improve the skills they have or learn new skills which will help them get on or climb their career ladder."