Unfortunately it is necessary. Not because people who don't have it are incapable of the same things, but because most career paths require it now. When the recession hit, employers had to find any tiny detail they could to reject people. It wasn't malicious, there were just too many candidates. One of the ways they did this was by requiring various college degrees for positions that previously didn't need them. Similarly, there are more college graduates now than ever before, which means the pool of potential hires is still large.
Personally, I think that more people pursuing higher education is a great thing. It's an enriching experience even if the degree didn't help you. The only problem is that the costs are ridiculous. Willing and able people want to get a degree and they're either locked out or they go into life crippling debt. It's a situation where, to earn a living wage, you must first dig deeper and deeper into a hole that you might not get out of. It's distressing.