Hawke's Bay Regional Council has asked Massey University to evaluate the economic and social effects of the proposed Ruataniwha dam.
The council and the university signed an agreement on Monday for the university to analyse the impacts of the proposed $600 million water storage scheme, which could eventually irrigate about 25,000 hectares of farmland.
Vice-chancellor Steve Maharey said the university would investigate the practical changes the proposed irrigation scheme could bring.
"A key example is there would be a need for more people to work here. If there's more irrigation, there'll be more jobs, so how are they going to be trained for that," Mr Maharey said.
Young people needed to be encouraged to believe their future was in the region and that they should take on the relevant training, then stay.
"So it's issues that are very practical, like that, that we're going to help take on for the region," Mr Maharey said.
However, the university would retain its independence and credibility, he said.