I figured out a way to encapsulate a lot of what frustrates me about discussions of the post-industrial economy. Everyone mouths "STEM" and "college", as though the great thing about the industrial economy was the opportunity that it provided for college-educated STEM professionals. In fact, the great thing about the industrial economy was the sort of opportunity it provided for everyone else. Yes, college-educated STEM professionals did their part in maintaining the system that provided those opportunities, but they were just one factor among many.
We've assumed that we can credential our way out of this problem, but that's insanity. We need to ask what sort of economic arrangement can provide good opportunity for those who don't have college degrees, rather than asking how to get more people through college.