Well yeah but I was looking at it more a long the lines of what's going to happen when higher education becomes the norm.
Like let's say for example, a company needs a guy with a mechanical engineering degree and there are 15 candidates with the degree. Now, I know they're not all going to have a high rank in their class or the best of abilities. However, a lot of people are under the impression that the degree will make the employee. So where's the competitive edge that the degree in today's world gives?
I guess what I'm getting at, or trying to convey is that a higher education is pretty much required in today's society, because of the move towards services and financial needs. A service based economy vs manufacturing, basically establishing higher education as majority, which then in turn becomes the normal standard.
Once the new normal standard is established and in working order, how much would one possibly have to be educated to be "on top"? As for those services that are reserved for the 'uneducated', since they're no longer desirable positions, would they not then forcibly be something that could be more lucrative than the service (office) jobs that require an education?
For example, janitorial service or construction. I doubt most people today would like to do this kind of work simply because it's either low paying or requires some actual physical effort. So they opt for the college route and get a job in an office; the majority of the new work force. Thus the available work force for the construction/janitorial becomes increasingly low, would they not have to increase wages to compensate for those who know how to do something that isn't well represented by the education system? I wouldn't be surprised if their wages stayed competitive with their 'educated' counterparts.
So what I'm seeing is that one of two things would undoubtedly have to happen. Education would no longer be the ticket to big paychecks because there is a superfluous amount of educated people in the workforce; wages staying close to what today's would be....or....The entire job market seeing a rise in pay across the board, which in turn would be bad; inflation.
Please be aware this is in "hypothetical la, la land" but something interesting to think about....to me at least.
Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer. But we can look back at history.
100 years ago, most people didn't graduate high school. A high school diploma was like having an MBA today (figuratively speaking of course).
50 years ago, more and more people did graduate high school. This shift now made it almost like having a bachelors today. If you graduated high school 50 years ago and didn't go to college, you probably enjoyed a long and successful career making decent money and living on a middle class income.
Today most people graduate high school, and many go off to college. A high school diploma is no longer sufficient to provide most with a solid middle class income (yes some people can do it, but it's getting harder these days). Now if you want the same success in finding a career that people had 50 years ago, you need a college education.
But as Clay pointed out.... where does it stop? We as a country have made shift after shift after shift, increasing our education demands and raising the skill level of workers.
Well, I really don't know. All I can guess at this point is that it's pretty far down the road (at least another 50 years by my best guess), and if it does happen, we'll probably see a huge shift in grade school education.