I think it really depends on the degree and the position. Most of the ones you mentioned are ones that at least early in my career (1990s), weren’t four year degree positions anyway. Receptionists and admins didn’t have a college requirement, and CAD drafters, at least in the civil engineering world, needed some sort of credential, usually along the lines of an associate’s degree showing that they understood drafting and a CAD program, but didn’t need a degree. (what was the point- the engineers did that stuff anyway?)
I keep hearing that we should do away with them for other positions like computer programmer. I’m of mixed opinions about that. On one hand, it’s entirely possible for someone to be an auto-didact and learn how to code, and be very good at it without formal schooling. But on the other hand, there’s a LOT of value in the traditional computer science curriculum when it comes to doing anything other than just assembly-line, lowest-level code writing. Knowing how various data structures work, how various algorithms work, how to determine which algorithm to use, how to analyze your algorithm for speed, knowing how databases work conceptually, how to normalize a database, etc… are all critically important design level stuff. It’s conceptually similar to the divide between a civil engineer and a CAD tech, or between an automotive engineer and a mechanic. Or even I suppose, between an actual accountant and a bookkeeper.
My guess is that at some point, employers were inundated with applicants with degrees for these positions, and realized that it wasn’t a fluke, and started using it as an easy first-pass filter for applicants. They probably realized at some point that at least for those positions, using it as a filter didn’t show useful results in terms of better quality workers, and that they came with their own set of issues.
I suspect that part of it, unfortunately, is that few degreed people are going to be satisfied with the admin assistant career path, and probably were pushing to go on to bigger and better things, rather than just being an admin and shutting up about it. For whatever reason, companies don’t like people getting out of their lanes like that. By putting non-degreed people in a lot of those positions, there’s a ready-made barrier to entry from those positions to other positions in the company- namely a 4 year degree.