Sir Adrian Webb also said that a vocationally-led curriculum would need to be seen to lead to higher education opportunities to become more attractive to both parents and teachers.
But he warned Assembly members at a meeting of the education, lifelong learning and skills committee against allowing the new vocational pathways initiative to become too employer-led, hinting there was no such thing anymore as a job for life.
"Just learning hairdressing will not equip a young person for the future.
They need a broad range of skills to cope with the real world."
The Assembly government tasked Sir Adrian with launching an independent investigation into the role of FE in Wales that is expected to revolutionise provision over the next 10 years.
He gave details of the review's remit and some personal opinions on skills-based learning. Sir Adrian said his remit was broad, and would probably include a citizen's jury of FE students. He said members of the review team would travel outside the UK to look at other countries' good practice.
Breaking with tradition, he said respondents had only been asked one question in the paper that has gone out, focusing on the future.
Ambitious plans for the Assembly government's 14-19 learning pathways have been dogged with fears of employer apathy and lack of funding.
Christine Chapman, deputy education minister for 14-19, admitted vocational learning was not catching on with Welsh employers. Sir Adrian said vocational skills must be made to look attractive.
Susan Lewis, chief inspector, criticised poor collaboration between schools and colleges. But Sir Adrian said in the current climate of non-accountability, leaders were actually being good managers.
The scrum for the best students at both sixth forms and colleges, in turn securing more funding, has led to a lack of co-operation.