I must say that I don’t fully understand the assertion that the days are numbered for people who know how to plan, write and optimise semantic, lean, mean HTML and CSS.
I totally agree that you cannot rest on your laurels, and need to keep learning. But this has always been the case. I took a break once for 8 months and felt totally lost once I came back to work. I had to pull myself up by the bootstraps and get back in the game.
A few years ago I was coasting and getting a little jaded at work. But then I saw Ethan Marcotte speak at FOWD on London and everything changed. I came back to work with news of how all our sites were now going to be built responsively. It was a steep learning curve, but it was a refreshing tonic that once again made me revise my skills and assumptions about how best to put together the HTML and CSS for websites.
I also agree that it is best if you also know how to put together some decent JS, as this is integral to modern User Interfaces and User Experiences. But I put it to you that most Front End Developers are not amazing JS coders. I’m not.
We also have to be aware of accessibility, user experience, content strategy…but we always had to have these in mind when coding.
Everyone cannot be good at everything.
Okay some people can but they are in the minority (and are awesome). Have you ever tried to get a backend developer to write some great HTML or CSS? It’s easy right? Wrong. In the same way, I don’t plan to become more adept at PHP/MSQL than knowing enough to tweak the user interface code to get the best results.
So much of the discussions that I follow atm are about the need to optimise, to be accessible, to make interfaces work on any viewport. Surely most of this is down to the poor old dudes who can write intelligent, well structured, optimised, magical CSS and HTML (and yes JS) to deliver a great User Experience?
Yes browsers suck much less now (but most that are in use still suck alot). But having to deal with that less has now been replaced by the need to code excellent, lightweight, responsive sights that are beautiful.
I don’t know of any automated process to replace the HTML/CSS craftsman, and I’m not sure when web design died.
Remember, with killer writing and good HTML/CSS you can still make an awesome and accessible site, without going overboard with complex/shifting interfaces.