True, it's possible. But way take such a gamble? What happens if he loses the job? Perhaps his old boss can be his reference for a new job, but most companies just want to see a piece of paper regardless how good someone seems to be without a degree.
You don't become a software architect by 'just working.' If you go to work after school you will have a minimum wage job. If you continue 'just working' you will work entry level shit for your whole life. To get a better job you will have to learn how to do something useful. You can do that in uni or some specialized courses, but you will still have to study and improve your qualifications.