Nerval's Lobster writes: Demand for software engineering talent has become so acute, some denizens of Silicon Valley have contributed to a venture fund that promises to turn out qualified software engineers in two years rather than the typical four-year university program. Based in San Francisco, Holberton School was founded by tech-industry veterans from Apple, Docker and LinkedIn, making use of $2 million in seed funding provided by Trinity Ventures to create a hands-on alternative to training software engineers that relies on a project-oriented and peer-learning model originally developed in Europe. But for every person who argues that developers don't need a formal degree from an established institution in order to embark on a successful career, just as many people seem to insist that a lack of a degree is an impediment not only to learning the fundamentals, but locking down enough decent jobs over time to form a career. (People in the latter category like to point out that many companies insist on a four-year degree.) Still others argue that lack of a degree is less of an issue when the economy is good, but that those without one find themselves at a disadvantage when the aforementioned economy is in a downturn. Is any one group right, or, like so many things in life, is the answer somewhere in-between?