I wonder what happened to the apprenticeship system, and if it's possible for it to come back. There is still skilled labor out there that is both necessary and pays relatively well. Why not have an apprenticeship system for jobs like that?
Back in the '70s, I did a 2-year apprenticeship at a TV shop combined with a high school trade class in consumer electronic repair. I made great money right out of high school and if consumer electronics hadn't become a "replace don't repair" commodity, no doubt I'd still be doing it. I saw the way things were going though, and used the money I made in electronic repair to pay for an engineering degree. I was never as happy as I was doing an electronic repair, but circuit design, then Unix Sysadmin kept paying while my friends who still worked as electronic technicians started feeling a very bad financial crunch. So, apprenticeships were still a thing in my lifetime, I don't think they are as much nowadays, I think it's pretty much trade school.
To be fair, I suspect that some of these jobs never needed a 4 year (or likely 2 year) degree, jobs such as housekeeper, barista, lumber associate, etc. The company I used to work at required a 4 year degree for office workers. They didn't use the terms "clerk" or "secretary", but that would have been the traditional titles for these positions. They could never fill the positions.
A step in the right direction I think. A degree is one way to credentials, it shouldn't be the only way.