As much as we need competent programmers, DBAs, network administrators, etc., we also need plumbers, carpenters and electricians. Not everyone has the talent or desire for college, and I think we as a society ought to recognize that. Of course, that means less income for colleges and bankers providing student loans, so I'm not surprised that this is being billed as a radical idea.
One of the worst things that happened to the UK back in the day was the stigmatisation of "trades" and the new idea that to be worth anything you had to get a degree. This had a twofold effect - a lack of people who saw a skilled trade job as a viable option, and a devaluation of the degree as everyone scrambled to offer one that would be suitable for all levels of academic achievement.
It's something we're still suffering from, and we need to get away from this idea that everyone can have every opportunity if they want - some people are not cut out for academia, and there is nothing wrong with that, but they might make an extraordinary skilled tradesman. Until we re-level that playing field and take the stigma away from jobs where you get your hands dirty, we'll be stuck with the fallout.