That people were not pushed to University. Now that are being pushed, cajoled and threatened to go in that direction. Not only that, anything that isn't a STEM degree is touted as worthless.
It also used to be that employers trained their employees; be they young apprentices or fresh and clueless out of uni.
It also used to be that people valued education in and of itself (to some degree) and did not treat it as a checkbox system, where everything taught could be forgotten after the box had been checked. Seriously, ask some of these "straight A" planks anything that they should know, as it was in their syllabus, they got an "A" on the test, and then claim they've never heard of it, or that it doesn't matter, they'll just google it.
Now, more than ever, people are treated as mere mindless widgets. Not that that didn't happen before, but it's pretty much the norm today, when in a past era or few it wasn't.