Want to make $60,000 after 16 weeks training?

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October

Wake up and good morning. Lots of different things to touch on this morning. What do CBS news anchor Katie Couric and welding have in common? Not much except this quirky piece that's appeared on the CBS/Couric blog. CBS reports on a program run by WorkNet Pinellas in which hundreds of men and women, many with no more than a high school diploma, are training for jobs that practically guarantee a six-figure salary within three to five years. It’s not high-tech. It's precision welding. And why is welding a, ahem, hot vocation? Because in Florida, precision welders are needed for the reemergence of nuclear power plants, from Progress Energy's planned nuke in Levy County to others proposed by Florida Power & Light in South Florida. Here's the kicker: The graduates of the WorkNet Pinellas program start at $60,000 after a 16-week training course.

From rising to falling jobs at real estate Web sites. You may have seen the St. Petersburg Times story noting how the locally based Foreclosuresdaily.com could not keep its doors open despite being named by Inc. magazine as the 35th fastest-growing private company in the country, the only one in the Tampa Bay area to crack the top 100. Well, it's not alone, notes a Business Week story. Seattle-based Zillow.com is the latest to announce major layoffs with plans to  cut 40 people or about 27 percent of its staff. Redfin, also based in Seattle, said last week that will would be eliminating 20 percent of its employees. Wrote Zillow CEO Rich Barton on Oct. 17 on the company’s blog:

“The unprecedented economic events that are playing out on a global stage began in our industry and have made a prolonged recession likely, in our judgment.”

Moving on. Florida insurance companies are rattling their cages again saying the hard financial times on Wall Street could undermine the ability of the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund to raise the money it claims to represent in the event of a big storm. The insurance industry suggestion: it's time to consider raising rates to buy more backup coverage. So concludes a report released Tuesday by the Florida Insurance Council, a trade group representing insurers. The report notes that the state-backed catastrophe fund could face a bonding shortfall of $10-billion to $15-billion if a major hurricane strikes because it is getting more difficult to borrow. The fund was created to provide cheaper reinsurance, or backup coverage, to insurers so they could pass the savings to customers. But some insurers chastised last year for not passing those savings to customers said they needed some of the money to buy additional private reinsurance because the catastrophe fund is considered less reliable. Here we go: Round 99 in the property insurance bout.

Moving on, again. So where isn't the failure of Wall Street's Lehman Brothers having repercussions? The Walt Disney Co. claims it was owed $92-million from a currency exchange when Lehman filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Sept. 15. Now Disney is demanding an investigation into the actions of Lehman directors leading up to its collapse last month.

Warning: The following item should send a wake-up call to many small Florida businesses. There's a new breed of plaintiff lawyer out there, says Tampa attorney Phillip Russell, and they are not looking for the companies with 1,000 employees. They're happy to find 10 or 15 employees working off the clock or due unpaid overtime. Russell, a member of the Tampa office of national employment law firm Constangy, Brooks & Smith LLP, made his remarks at an employment law conference last week in Las Vegas and was reported here. Check out Russell's tips for staying out of trouble in wage and hour matters.

Curious about which jobs, by sheer volume, dominate the Tampa Bay area and what they pay? The Top 10 are right here in a column I wrote for the St. Petersburg Times.

-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist

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[Last modified: Tuesday, June 1, 2010 12:22pm]

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