Carwyn Jones, Assembly Member for Bridgend, was elected as successor to Rhodri Morgan on Tuesday and is due to become the Welsh Assembly's First Minister next week.
Colleges have welcomed Mr Jones's election, but principals are concerned about his manifesto commitment to end incorporation for Welsh colleges.
It is still unclear what structure Mr Jones wants in its place, but the national body CollegesWales understands this will not mean a return to local authority control.
Mr Jones has also committed to reform college governance, promised more for frontline education in FE, more apprenticeships, action to address competition between colleges and schools, and to direct more resource to those not in education, employment or training.
David Jones, principal of Deeside College, said: "Modernisation of aspects of FE is long overdue, particularly in order to maximise opportunities for 14- to 19-year-old learners. The review of governance is therefore very welcome. I'm also personally fully in support of developing a range of common professional contracts, recognising that outstanding FE is delivered by staff in a range of teaching, training and assessing roles.
"I'm also particularly interested to find out what Carwyn Jones meant by `ending incorporation'. Any move back towards a local education authority- led arrangement would be of great concern to the colleges, and more importantly to the learners and employers who we serve."
Mark Jones, CollegesWales board member and principal of Bridgend College, said: "We are delighted to hear of our local Assembly Member's election as Welsh Labour leader, who will now become First Minister.
"Carwyn is a keen supporter and friend of further education and a regular visitor to his local college and we believe his stated intention to put `the economy centre-stage . and co-operating with colleges in skills and training' is a clear commitment to taking these critical agendas forward."
John Graystone, chief executive of CollegesWales, said: "CollegesWales is looking forward to working with Carwyn Jones. We support his pledge to refocus educational investment to ensure a greater proportion reaches the front line and to reduce unnecessary competition between FE colleges and schools.
"Colleges in Wales are already taking action, with five proposed college mergers and three proposals for colleges to lead regional work-based learning consortia currently under consideration by the Welsh Assembly government. Carwyn has also promised more apprenticeships, which is good news for learners and the economy."