The level of people going to college is down a little from the peak. Way down in the $for-profit$.
There are lots of Wammys in the education world and here's just few of them.
1) The idea that everyone should go to a 4-year college degree is a broken concept. Some people are best suited for trades. Unfortunately, though, the trades are double hit by the recession so there's no jobs for those students that take the smart choice for the career that's best for them like construction or welding. The manufacturing and construction jobs are coming back slowly. Very slowly. And the older crowd, baby boomers and such, may have to work a lot longer; their forced early retirement will probably keep them in the workforce longer...
2) Colleges have been happily pumping out none relevant degrees as if nothing has changed in the economy over the last 20 years. See the Lessons in Recessions article by Hall (2010). In the meantime, there continue to be increasing jobs vacancies for which there are candidates do not have the required skills/education. Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) are the weak link from the education side.
3) As we look deeper into the STEM concept, it becomes clear that the education involved is interdisciplinary. See Jonathan Gerlach's take on this at NSTA for example.
4) Future degrees and degree programs are generally ignored. Education prefers to have degree programs for the jobs that currently exist (even if they are dying careers) than the jobs that will exist. Sustainability is, or will be, the focus of lots of jobs in the future. But it relies on STEM as the base but rapidly branch off into all other disciplines -- but with a twist. Business and accounting is just one example. Employees at many levels will have to have a good understanding of basic accounting in order to do the most basic work in sustainability such as carbon accounting and water accounting.
There are BIG Wammys in the world of education. Even though more education generally pays off for everyone.
Maybe the for-profits will be the perfect place to offer the cutting edge jobs. It certainly hasn't been working the public sector.
Hall, E. (2010). Lessons of recessions: Sustainability education and jobs may be the answer. Journal of Sustainability and Green Management. Jacksonville, FL: Academic and Business Research Institute. Retrieved from: http://www.aabri.com/OC2010Manuscripts/OC10079.pdf
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