Bear with me for a history lesson.
Back in the day you needed a degree to operate a computer. Then Microsoft and IBM changed that with the personal computer running MS-DOS. Suddenly anyone willing to learn DOS could operate a computer. Computer literacy and computer usage sky-rocketed. Apple and MS-Windows took it to a whole new level. Now grandma could also get in on the action. Everyone with the guts to try could use a computer. And the revolution is far from over. Computer literacy and usage will continue to sky-rocket until 2030 before it starts to level off.
Why are designers screwed?
Because the same thing is happening in design. Not too long ago a degree or at least a diploma or in-job training was absolutely required. Without a good knowledge of the processes and techniques you simply could not be a designer, no matter how talented you were. The computer made it easier. A lot easier. Advances in software mean that the average, computer-literate person can now produce a mediocre but acceptable logo for her own web site. The incentive to pay for design is disappearing fast.
Yes. Well, kind of.
The title should read: Mediocre Designers are Screwed.
Mediocrity will always have a place in emerging industries, but it will always fade as the industry grows up and opens up. Eventually technology brings the required skill level down to almost zero. You won’t be able to rely on your technical proficiency forever. In design, it is almost time to choose: Go for brilliant or go be mediocre somewhere else.
Edit: Don’t email me about Apple vs MS. I don’t care.