Nick Reilly, 50, chairman and managing director of Vauxhall Motors, has been appointed the first chair of the inspectorate which will also examine work-based training. He will be on a salary of pound;8,700-pound;10,400, working two days a month.
His colourful career has taken him from feeding sheep in his native Wales to the Training Standards Council, which oversees work-based training, where he has been chair since 1997.
An Old Harrovian and Cambridge graduate, Mr Reilly is also a vice-president of Vauxhall's US parent company General Motors - the first Briton to hold the post.
The inspectorate will scrutinise further education in the 19-plus sector and workplace training for people over 16. The Office for Standards in Education will inspect services for A-level students aged 16-19.
The two inspectorates start work in April next year, when the new Learning and Skills Council takes control of all post-16 education and training outside schools and universities.
Mr Reilly said the new regime would examine the progress of learners "as opposed to simply inspecting the teaching itself".
He also sought to reassure colleges. "We do recognise the importance of having the confidence of those who provide the training."
He said he was looking forward to working in partnership with OFSTED in a nuber of college inspections. He said: "The joint work we have already done is a positive sign for the future.
"We must now concentrate on creating an outstanding inspectorate, based on the good work being done today at the Further Education Funding Council and the Training Standards Council."
Mr Reilly said that it was vital that employers got involved in raising skill levels.
After reading economics at St Catharine's, Cambridge, Mr Reilly joined a Manchester firm of stockbrokers before quitting to spend time living in isolation on a Welsh hillside feeding sheep.
After a brief period making the most of the end of the hippy era, he returned to the job market. As a motoring enthusiast and proud owner of a pink Volkswagen Beetle he decided to apply for the post of financial analyst at General Motors and got the job.
He was awarded a CBE in the 2000 New Year Honours list, for services to the motor industry. Vauxhall Motors, founded in 1903, has 10,000 employees.
Education Secretary David Blunkett said: "Nick Reilly will set the agenda for the new inspectorate and communicate this widely through his impressive network of business and training contacts.
"He has been an excellent chair of the Training Standards Council and has recently been leading a group to encourage business to join the new Learning and Skills Council, with great success."
Reilly profile, see website