They are even more important now than before, because of the fact the job market now requires more specialization. Even in the Manufacturing areas of the workforce they are coming up with 3D machines to make products quicker and faster, these machines require you to have a degree even now.
No, I do not believe that college degrees are actually has helpful as they used to be, because anymore, everyone goes to college. The value of a distinction is lost if everyone has that distinction. It is like giving everyone first place. We all know that going to college is no big deal anymore.
We used to live in a world where you would go to college and get a degree to do one job, and then stay in that job for the duration of your life. Today changing jobs, and event careers is much more commonplace. The internet also puts information at out fingertips, making it easier than ever to learn about a new topic, and in some ways teach yourself how to do a job.
It seems today that more and more people have college degrees, and at the same time more and more people are unemployed and seeking employment with high paying degrees. The reason is because the value of degrees have dropped since the economy has dropped. With a decreasing economy, so do the degrees that people earn drop, even though they cost significantly more.
In one sense because many people have a degree, it is a needed commodity. However, on the other hand because so many people have them, degrees are often worth less than a skill and some job experience. Students would do well to get those things first and then study in college just because they love to learn.