To put another layer into your interesting post and reader comments, it is my view that graduates need more than ever to be "re-credentialed" soon after they get their tertiary degrees.
Here I'm referring to situations or disciplines where the degree turns out to not be the entry ticket into good money, or as you note, even a job in the studied discipline. I'm seeing more and more evidence of a pattern in physiotherapy and certainly law that those who get into a job in their discipline find after some years that they really need new skills, new offerings, even a whole new framework for marketing their core offering. (The degree was not for them a buy once, use for a lifetime ticket.)
The evidence of the pattern arises for me in recent months as I've done a lot of advisory and innovative business modelling work involving re-credentialing in a health sector field where the tertiary qualification is not producing the results required. My client is in a position to re-credential along the lines I've described. This work took me back to remind a template you and I worked on more than a decade ago for a certain Catholic institution, you'll remember the one.
Extrapolating from the above I would say, as I've often done, that in a time of continuing rapid change in so many things, it should not surprise us that "sure thing" discipline degree are leading for some to underwhelming or deadend careers or at least futures that don't produce the financial returns that might once have been expected.
Now Noric's comment got me thinking. It is true, I think, that people are retraining or re-qualifying in a way that wasn't true in the past. Further, in many cases they are paying for it. But what are the implications of all this? Many is the short answer. Here I want to look at just two.
The first is that it demonstrates the difficulty of estimating a return on various forms of education. How do you disentangle all the influences?
The second. How do you justify increasing course lengths when your graduates increasingly require re-skilling now or in the future? This one gets into broader issues where my prejudices come into play. Still, is it time for us to shorten courses? Do we need a four year university course for a para professional role, for example?