Here's an old post I made on the subject,
An academic degree is most valued as a proof that you have the ability to set a long-term, vague and abstract goal and achieve it, not that you have a highly specific skillset. The only sectors where a degree is useful per-se (down to its grade) are academia and scientific research. Commercial/business sectors operate by entirely different rules, which sometimes may rub against the premises behind a degree, especially in highly variable/volatile fields such as IT.
Companies actually pay for specific skills, no matter how you have acquired them. Sometimes it helps having a piece of paper certifying that you have them, sometimes it doesn't, not the least of reasons being that such a piece of paper doesn't exist.
Sure, companies may not want to pay for training, but that doesn't mean a four-year degree is necessary to complete the tasks you have to do.
E.g. in the field of IT, find me a college or university that includes a Cisco, SAP, Oracle, IBM Websphere, Spring, Struts or Hibernate course in its offerings, and that will produce a competence certificate for those particular frameworks on demand (just making an example with specific frameworks and solutions that seem to be highly in demand ATM). That's right, self-training, training by a company making a long-term investment on you or paying for an expensive third-party certification yourself is the only way to acquire any of these.
See above. In some fields like IT, there are specializations which can indeed be acquired regardless of degrees (actually, preferably without the burden of a generalist's degree), and often are more marketable. Academic degrees tend to be generic and diluted/unfocused, and out of line with what companies are willing to pay for. The hard part is "getting in" this kind of circle. "Wanting in" is not enough.
If I can demonstrate a particular skill, shouldn't that count more than how much I spent on college? And if I am very skilled in a particular field, shouldn't that matter more in terms of income than whether or not I have a degree?