This post from December 16 came just as I was typing up my own recommendations:
How to get into Web Development with NO degree and NO debt
Robert emphasizes career building and jobs getting more than I. Actually in the sidebar I don't talk about those at all. My assumption was that as you make the climb through the LAMP stack you'd get the lay of the land, jobs-wise.
I'm 100% with Robert that the way to demonstrate skill is just that, to demonstrate skill. If you create your own website, from scratch, and can describe your methods, you have a good presentation for any prospective employer.
People who just bolt together pieces they don't really understand will not fare so well.
(I plan a future post on the whole "badging" phenomenon.)