The demands for education that employers will lay down as "standard", as baselines to take an application seriously, have been raised a great deal in the last twenty to forty years. But the complexity and demands set by the things the employees are gonna do, that often hasn't seen a major elevation. (Okay, lots more people use computers these days on the job, but once you've learnt the routines, and know what you're supposed or allowed to do with the pc, ipad or phone, that side of the work often isn't very challenging).
Many jobs are now more "pre-packaged duties" and with less individual responsibility than those kinds of positions used to entail: nurses, freight, bus and train drivers, journalists, many kinds of factory workers and small workshop technicians, even some lines of teachers (above high-school level) are more firmly reined in today and scripted with exactly what they are supposed to do and say, no matter how they see the day-by-day or specific-task circumstances on the job. But at the same time the level of programs you have to take - and thus the debt you have to incur to get in - have risen massively.
Though most of them would deny it, I think it's obvious that tech industries and factories, office personnel suppliers, traders, newspapers and news agencies today often demand a university or advanced professional training exam more as a sorting-out-beam, a means of stopping the flood of applicants, than for the actual knowledge they think those schools will impart in their exiting students. These employers - or their hiring department guys, who are often working by a set policy - want papers to prove that the applicant has the patience and medium-range drive (or slightly above medium, but not a Marie Curie drive?) you'll need to get through to an exam on decent time, and the social skills that are informally trained and passed on at a university (getting into the "school spirit" as it used to be called) - they are not that interested in brilliant and outstanding academic credentials or innovative research as such. I know several people (and have heard of many more) who felt that a too consistently great exam could be a hindrance when they left university, or even before then, looking for a job on the side to help pay their rent and books, because it invited the jibing question "so, don't you know anything *else* than how to score in the academy?" The packaging of knowledge in a set form, and the papers for it, are becoming more important than the actual knowledge, or will to take on challenges, that a person may acquire at this or that school - or in life.
As a professor of law at the academy I've studied at put it twenty years ago, "the rampant educomania is well on its way to wringing the neck off the view that most people have an innate capacity to understand, to take on new challenges, to grow in work, but this is a capacity that often needs to be allowed to develop in joint work and contact with other people". (Experience integrated into you, into how you'll handle a situation or a problem, is what counts, not just the number of books and degrees you have clocked)
Of course the professed talk is that we live in a society where "excellence in knowledge, and the ability to question received ideas, is king", but in reality that's not what employers and corporations want; many employers are looking more for somebody that's mouldable once he/she gets in. Paradoxically, a heavy debt burden which you have to acquire to even have a go at getting the foot in can make you more mouldable, because you have to "get in and play by all the rules or keep out". When this kind of thing happens in a recession, or in a period with high unemployment even if the wheels be rolling fast in many places, it risks creating a huge army of people with long studies but little real experience at the stuff they will actually be doing after their exams, and perhaps low on skills (or cahnnels) in selling themselves to future employers.
It's easy enough for universities and colleges to raise their education fees, and raise them steadily, even rapidly, without really showing that the education they offer counts for an average of their students. Universities, trade schools and "elite schools" get a lot of fawning coverage in the media today, and it is easy for them toi provide rosy footage of what they offer - you interview the success-story students and rely on the fact that everyone wants to come across as a winner: few people will answer openly, in a gallup or at a town hall meeting, that a few years after exam they have landed in a debt trap or aren't getting near the kind of jobs they feel they were trained for, still fewer will stand up in a newspaper interview with name and picture and describe such a situation.
Both the schools themselves, corporations and the media are peopled by folks who have climbed up the ladders on the set conditions, who have paid their dues and who are not going to admit a great deal of critical questions and sharp angles. At the same time, politicians more or less consciously use universities and schools as a way to keep people out of open unemployment and tidy up the statistics of their region a bit.This all needs to be discussed a good deal more openly than is being done today; if employers don't really trust the quality of the educational systems they are praising, and if on the other hand we get less and less taxes or savings to keep those schools going and functioning, then in the end we're in for a great deal of future trouble.