Anoka County Job Training Success Stories:

Contributing to the success of individuals and employers through workforce development services.

Dislocated Worker Program

Heidi received notice in September, 2016 that her office was closing where she worked as an Admissions Representative for the past five years. She was scared, upset and had no idea where to begin looking for a new job.

She applied and was accepted into the Dislocated Worker Program where her counselor helped her update her resume and encouraged her to take multiple job search and interview classes through the Anoka County WorkForce Center. She interviewed for a Patient Coordinator position at Fifth Avenue Dental but unfortunately needed additional training. The On-the-Job Training program allowed Fifth Avenue Dental the opportunity to train her!

​ Her Office Manager worked together with the Anoka County WorkForce Center to create a training plan. After 90 days of training she developed the skills needed for her job. This program not only offered training but helped give positive encouragement, opportunity and benefited the employee and employer.

Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP)

Mark enrolled in Anoka County’s SCSEP in October 2013 with the intention of obtaining part-time employment. Following an initial assessment by his counselor, Mark was placed through SCSEP in a part-time work experience. Mark remembers it being a challenge at first as he hadn’t worked with people before. For most of his career Mark worked as contracted labor and worked independently.

The first year the program helped Mark learn how to work with people. Mark’s supervisor comments on his performance review “Overall, Mark has grown into a valued team member of our production crew.”

​ Mark continues to grow in this positon and colleagues have taken notice. Mark’s supervisor wrote in his most recent performance review that Mark does a very good job of holding himself to high standards when performing duties. Mark’s supervisor has used his work performance as an example for others on how they should work.  Mark states, “I just do the best I can, I try, that is all I can do.”

Youth Program
job searching

Alexis was referred to Empowers, Anoka County Minnesota Youth Program, by her school’s inclusion and diversity coordinator in the fall of 2016. She participated in the Future Leaders program through Coon Rapids High School. Future Leaders is a program for black high school seniors that show the desire to attend college but would like to earn work experience and be a mentor prior to graduation. Empowers provided a work experience within the school district as a teacher’s assistant to mentor children at Adventures Plus.

Alexis graduated from high school in June 2017 with excellent academic standing. Prior to graduation she was accepted to Augsburg University where she plans on studying Social Work and French. Due to her high academic standing she earned multiple academic scholarships to help pay for her schooling.

​She will continue to work at Adventure’s Plus over the summer through Empowers and has secured part-time employment on-campus for the fall semester as well.

Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) / Diversionary Work Program (DWP)

MFIP Success Story pic

Jimmy and Jeannot moved from Florida to Minnesota and originally emigrated from the Democratic Republic of Congo where Jeannot worked as a Sales Representative, and Jimmy worked as a Consultant for the World Bank providing economic aid to local communities.

Jimmy and Jeannot knew they had to start over with their careers and found the staff at the Anoka County Job Center to be very helpful in providing advice and assistance. Their Vocational Counselor through MFIP connected them with Cars for Neighbors, they applied and were given a car. The car made it possible for Jimmy to be able to get to his full-time job and Jeannot to get to her English Language class. Both Jimmy and Jeannot advanced from English Language Learner classes to successfully enroll in college.

​ Jeannot received job search assistance through MFIP where she had help updating her resume and polishing her interview skills. As a result, she obtained a part-time job as a Home Health Aide and continues schooling at Anoka Ramsey Community College. Jimmy continues to receive support while in a training program at Hennepin Technical College where he is working on a degree in Manufacturing Engineering Technology.

​ With the combination of Jimmy and Jeannot’s diligent work ethic and the assistance they have received from the Anoka County Job Training Center, they are now both employed and continue to move forward in meeting their education goals and advancing their careers.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Employment & Training

zeniaXena moved from Minnesota from Leavenworth, KS; she was looking for a fresh start and stayed with family friends that live here in Anoka County.  It was her time to make some changes for herself and she jumped right in with both feet!  She enrolled with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Employment and Training Program where she received help with her job search and was referred to begin the process of getting her GED.  Job search came easily to her and she quickly started a part time job and also began working on getting her GED and in no time had accomplished this goal as well. Once she had her GED behind her; she immediately set her sights on attending college.

Through the SNAP Program; she was provided with not only help toward finding employment but was also connected with resources to help her meet her goals of completing her GED and enrolling in college.  Xena has since enrolled in classes at Rochester Community and Technical College and four weeks into her first semester; she was nominated for the National Honor Society.  Her long term goal is to eventually own her own business and with Xena's proven track record; this is definitely within her reach!   A note from Xena to her Anoka County Family: "I would like to give a thank you to my Anoka County family for helping to reach all these goals and for pointing me in the right direction."

Health Care Pathways
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I’m currently working in the health care field as a Certified Nursing Assistant. I participated in the Fall 2016 Health Care Pathways Program at Anoka County. I learned about the Health Care Pathways Program from my job counselor at the Blaine Human Services Building. I was having a hard time figuring out what I wanted to do with my life and my job counselor told me about this opportunity to receive no cost training in the health care field. I decided this would be a great first step for me. The classes in the Health Care Pathways Program were amazing and I learned so much in just a few months.

​I now have my Minnesota State Nursing Assistant Certification as well as certificates in Dementia Training, Culture Change, and Directing and Supporting Activities. Completing this program was a huge accomplishment. It has opened many doors for me and I no longer have to worry about a job because the health care field is in high demand for Certified Nursing Assistants. It's also brought me one step closer to furthering my education. I finally know my long term career goal; to eventually go back to school to become a Registered Nurse.

Office & Administrative Technology


Sue found herself unemployed after her job as co-manager at an in-home day care center was eliminated. She had spent the last 15 years of her career working at a day care center.

Sue wanted a job in an office environment, so she applied and was accepted into the Office and Administrative Technology Training Program (O&ATs), that would provide her with skills needed in an office. She began with the Bridge portion of the training and was astounded with the amount of work required to learn word processing programs. Sue took the initiative to put together an “informal work team” of classmates she could call or email when she needed help with homework assignments.

​Sue successfully completed the Bridge portion of the training and moved on to the Microsoft Training portion. Sue’s hard work, initiative and determination transformed her from being flabbergasted with the work required, to that of excitement and confidence!

​During Bridge, Sue also participated in a number of different job readiness workshops, including resume writing and interviewing. During these readiness workshops, Sue began to think about why an employer would hire her. She knew future employers would look at her resume and see that she lacked office experience and “only” had day care experience. After reaching out to her classmates, family members, and the OATS Navigator for advice, she took an inventory of the customer service skills she had developed and honed during her 15 years in home day care. The customer service skills inventory highlighted to Sue that the home day care skills are transferrable to the office environment.

​ Sue was able to eloquently communicate the transferability of her day care skills to the office environment when she was asked during a job interview, “What is your biggest strength?” Sue’s thoughtful response was her ability to take a group of children from chaos to calm. The employer agreed with Sue that the ability to create calm out of chaos was a strength; whether in home day care or the office environment. Sue continued to have success at future interviews in communicating all the day care skills that were also applicable in an office setting.

​Sue successfully completed the Microsoft Office Portion of the class and received three certifications: Master’s Certificate, Microsoft Office Specialist in Word and Microsoft Office Specialist in Excel.

​Sue participated in an 8-week paid internship with Metro North Adult Basic Education and did a wonderful job throughout her internship! Shortly after wrapping-up her internship; Sue secured a temporary position with the Anoka County Highway Department as an Office Support Assistant. Although her current position is temporary, Sue knows her continued hard work, determination, and initiative displayed in completing the Office and Administrative Technology Training Program will result in bigger and better things in the future!

Precision Sheet Metal


I first heard of the Precision Sheet Metal Program when I was attending Metro North Adult Basic Education. I knew I wanted to attend the training, but first had to work on my English, math, and reading skills, so I could meet the program requirements. I worked hard on my skills for two years while working multiple jobs. Through hard work and perseverance, I reached my goal to meet the reading and math criteria needed for entry into the program. I applied and met with the Program Navigator at the Blaine WorkForce Center and was invited into the Precision Sheet Metal (PSM) training program.

I started the PSM program in January by attending the Career Connections Workshop, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I remember a good reminder from the workshop that helps her to this day, “Have a plan!” It helps me to think ahead and be more prepared for everything in my life. I then completed 40 hours of Shop Math through Metro North ABE, which was “a great refresher” for me and helped with measurements when using shop machines. Next came 100 hours of PSM class at Anoka Technical College; working in the shop, learning machine safety, blueprint reading, and how to operate the Press Brake, Laser, and Turret. The class instructors, Don, Geno, and Ken, “made the training fun and easy to understand,” which increases the success for students in the program.

​ At graduation, I was chosen by the Instructors to give a speech about my experience in PSM training. After the ceremony was over, I stayed and met with employers that were there recruiting graduates. I had three job offers by the end of the night! I accepted a job offer from Pentair/SMX in Anoka as a Machine Operator earning $15.00/hour. “PSM Training has given me many different opportunities in the sheet metal and manufacturing industries.”

MN Disability Employment Initiative (DEI)

tomDEI is an innovative partnership which focuses on increasing employment outcomes of individuals with disabilities who are over 18 years of age and enrolled in career pathways training. I enrolled in the Precision Sheet Metal Training Program, made possible through a DEED Pathways to Prosperity grant.

​I am a talkative and engaging person who asked good questions and moved from one topic to another quickly at an initial meeting with a Job Placement Specialist and Vocational Counselor. It sounded like a good program but I was worried about the math involved in the course as I was not good at fractions. I decided to apply anyway when I learned that it is “hands-on” training, the average starting pay is $14.00 an hour, and employers come to graduation to meet and recruit employees. I was told that the training moves quickly and is demanding. This meant that I needed to stay on top of my assignments, ask questions and stay focused when operating the machines because safety is the most important worker concern in sheet metal fabrication. ​​

​The next step was to go through a Career Pathways Orientation where I would learn more about the training, fill out an application and provide information that determined my

program eligibility (income, reading and math requirements). My math score, though lower than required, was within the range for adults my age who have been out of school and not using math regularly. The Vocational Counselor met with the program’s Career Navigator and advocated for my acceptance into the program. My Integrated Resource Team also included a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor and an Adult Basic Education (ABE) instructor, who assisted me with my shop math directly. An Individual Learning Plan was implemented to describe my broad life goals and specific training goals. Each team member supported me in my training and employment goals and helped me with challenges that arose while I worked hard toward my Certificate of Completion. ​

At graduation, I was the first one talking to prospective employers. Within a week of graduation, I obtained a job at a local manufacturing firm, with a starting wage of $15.00 per hour. I have since been hired by the company on a full-time, permanent basis.