Germany, historically the model for the American educational system, has a far more practical system than America does today. We often forget that the traditional model for higher ed was designed for scholars, and teachers, some wealthy elites, and Protestant ministers.
We know that a minority, probably a small minority, of American college students are natural scholars or passionately curious. More want, or need, the credential.
40% of Germans become apprentices. In America, 0.3%.
A few more links on the topic:
The Secret To Germany's Low Youth Unemployment
In eurozone crisis, Germany benefits from its apprentices