Anoka County Job Training Success Stories:

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

Dislocated Worker Program

I was laid off on 9-27-2016 and applied for Unemployment benefits the same day. I was an Accounts Receivable Clerk for almost 9 years. This was very scary as I have never been laid off and am a mature worker. I went to the Anoka County WorkForce Center the same week and applied for the Dislocated Worker Program and started attending job search workshops.

Dave Kane was my vocational counselor. He provided excellent services; individual meetings- always asking if there was anything I needed. He recommended workshops that would benefit me along with the following services: 1. Monthly bus passes for job search
​2. Bravura Training to achieve a QuickBooks User Certification
​3. Referral and fitting for Dress for Success for interview clothing
​Attended the workshops listed below at the WorkForce Center
​• Creative Job Search
​• Polishing Your Resume
​• Career Exploration
​• Networking
​• Creating Your Resume
​• Advanced Interviewing Skills
​• Job Search for the Mature Worker

​ If it was not for the services provided by the Dislocated Worker Program and the workshops I attended from the Job Training Center, I would have never succeeded in finding a job as an Account Clerk for the State of Minnesota. I would like to personally thank Dave, my counselor, Pam and Terry in the Resource Room, and Roxane and Diane, the instructors for all of help and experience they provided.

Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP)
GeraldineSimsPhoto (002)

Geraldine Sims enrolled In Anoka County’s SCSEP in March 2013 with the intention of obtaining part-time employment. As someone who’d been out of the workforce for a while and older in age, enrolling in SCSEP helped provide necessary supports leading to regular employment.

Following an initial assessment by her counselor, Geraldine was placed through SCSEP in a part-time work experience as an Activities Assistant at Crest View Community in Columbia Heights. She was a natural for the position as is good with people, communicates well, enjoys working in a health care setting, and is very organized.  During her earlier years of employment, Geraldine had worked in a variety of office support positions, always dealing with people and a great deal of detail. Additionally, she had completed coursework in Nursing including Medical Terminology. Thus, engaging long-term care residents in daily activities was a perfect fit for both Geraldine’s background, interests and skill set.

​ During the time Geraldine worked at Crest View through SCSEP, she was always given high marks by her direct supervisor. She was described as having work qualities of flexibility, reliability, versatility, accommodating, professional demeaner and effective team work. Thus, it was not surprising when Crest View hired Geraldine the Winter of 2016. Congratulations Geraldine!

Youth Program

Shavonne Jennings enrolled in Anoka County’s WIA/ WIOA In-School Youth Program in the Spring of 2013. At the time, she was 16 years old and attending Coon Rapids High School. While attending high school, she worked as a Teacher’s Assistant through the work experience program as she enjoyed helping others.

She graduated high school in June 2015 and went on to cosmetology training. Her file was closed but remained in contact during her follow up year. Shavonne shared that she would prefer training as a Nursing Assistant as she could make a good wage with many opportunities to further her career. Her counselor connected her the Health Care Pathways Program at the Anoka County’s Job Training Center through the P2P grant. In September 2016, she received her Nursing Assistant Certification and training in Holistic Healing, Dementia Training, Culture Change, and Directing and Supporting. Shavonne is now working at Park River Estates as a Certified Nursing Assistant. She is working full time, with paid benefits and feels she is finally doing something she enjoys. Shavonne’s long term career goal is to go back to school for her LPN and work in a hospital or large care facility.

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


When Alisha first connected with the Anoka County WorkForce Center in February 2016, she was struggling with finding a job and considering moving back home to Superior, WI. Her previous employment was in retail, and as a Personal Care Assistant where she enjoyed working with elderly people. Alisha had attempted to enroll in the Anoka County Health Care Pathways (Certified Nursing Assistant) training program in the previous year but didn’t make the cut and was ready to give up on healthcare as a career goal. Alisha decided to stay in Anoka County and eventually obtained employment as a Retail Sales Clerk/Stocker.

​ However, that Fall the Anoka County Minnesota Family Investment Program and Anoka Technical College developed a new Nursing Assistant training program with additional built in preparatory support and following a consultation with her Employment Counselor, Alisha decided to give it a try. After successfully completing the preparatory classes, Alisha then transitioned to the Nursing Assistant training course at Anoka Technical College. Alisha obtained a personal computer thru the PCs for People program so she could study more effectively at home and diligently studied long hours to prepare herself for each exam. In December 2016,

​Alisha’s hard work paid off as she successfully completed the Nursing Assistant training program at ATC and the state exams and was placed on the MN Nursing Assistant Registry. Alisha accomplished all of this while continuing to work part-time at her retail job and being a mom to her five-year-old son. Shortly after her placement on the MN Nursing Assistant Registry, Alisha obtained employment as a Certified Nursing Assistant and is now working close to 30 hours per week at an assisted living facility in Anoka with plans to increase her hours to full-time. The success that Alisha experienced has inspired her to raise her sights even higher and her current goal is to be admitted to the Practical Nursing program at ATC and hopes to begin classes there this Fall.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Employment & Training

Photo of Brian Gruber

Brian returned to live in Minnesota toward the end of 2016, and was not having any luck finding a job. Needing assistance, he enrolled in SNAP Employment & Training and began attending a weekly job club at the WorkForce Center in Blaine.  It was during his time in Job Club that Brian began to learn new and different job search strategies, and how to better market himself to perspective employers. He’d had a negative experience seeking help in the past, so appreciated the positive energy and support of his SNAP counselor, Meeghan. 
​ By the end of the first week, Brian was already getting multiple interviews from his new and improved resume and landed a full-time position with Spears Manufacturing in Dayton.

Health Care Pathways

My name is Monica Pruett, and I chose to do the Health Care Pathways Program because, well, I’m a natural caretaker. I have been since I was a little girl. I enjoy helping others, even when it goes unappreciated. It’s something I enjoy very much. Prior to entering the Health Care Pathways Program, I had received my high school diploma and was deciding what my next steps would be as I had always had an interest in the Health Care field. In the past I worked in a care center as a Dietary Aid and I really enjoyed being in the environment and being able to help the elderly.

​ I had heard that the Health Care Pathways Program could pay for me to receive my certified nursing assistant certification. I knew this was a perfect opportunity to start my career in the health care field. We started out in the prep-class with our instructor, Sue. Prep class was definitely beneficial. All the study tips were helpful as well as just learning the terminology upfront made the college classes easier. We next took Culture Change, Directing and Supporting, and Dementia Training. Dementia training was awesome. One example from Dementia training that I thought was genius was when a resident at a care center tells you that they want to go home just play along. You end up confusing and frustrating the resident by telling them that this is their home. I will definitely be using this tip in the future. Then came Introduction to Holistic Healing in which I learned a lot about natural remedies not only for clients but for myself. Lastly we took the Nursing Assistant / Home Health Aide course and did our clinicals at Homestead in Anoka.

​During the training there were some devastating things that happened to me and I unfortunately became homeless. It was a struggle but I'm proud to say I made it through. I'm a testament that even with things stacked against you if you want something badly enough you can make it happen. This program was wonderful not only for the education but for the amazing friendships along the way. I have been hired at Homestead in Anoka as a Nursing Assistant and excited to start this new chapter in my life.

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.
​After day care, 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 was determined to graduate from the O&AT program, so she 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 was extremely excited to learn she was accepted to move 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:
​1. Master’s Certificate 2. Microsoft Office Specialist in Word 3. 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

Matthew came to the Anoka County WorkForce Center through the Dislocated Worker program. He was 35 and was recently let go from a company in August of 2014. He had worked as a Warehouse Worker in Shipping and Receiving for 12 years. His unemployment was running out in February 2015. He completed our Career Exploration and Creative Job Search Workshops.

 His dislocated worker counselor reviewed Labor Market and ONET information to look at occupations that matched his Holland Codes. He also heard about our Career Connections programs and the various pathway trainings offered through the Anoka County WorkForce Center. Matt was very interested in the Precision Sheet Metal Program (PSM).

Matt met with the navigator of the PSM program, toured Modern Tool, a manufacturing Company in our local area and started class on February 9. He completed 25 hours of Shop Math Preparation which is facilitated by Metro North Adult Basic Education. He then completed the 100 hours of training at Anoka Technical College in the shop learning how to use the Press Brake, the Laser and the Turret. They also taught him to read blue prints and stressed occupational safety. He graduated on April 22 and was asked to be a speaker at Graduation.

After the graduation ceremony, Matthew visited with employers that were in attendance and he scheduled several interviews for the following days. Not soon after, Matthew notified staff that he was offered a job at EJ Ajax Metal Forming Solutions. This position offered great benefits, a better commute then other job offers and was first shift. In talking with the HR manager and his direct supervisor at EJ Ajax they shared that Matt has shown skill sets that include shop safety, shop math and basic understanding of manufacturing in a stamping and fabrication environment. Matt also maintains a professional appearance and is very punctual which is much harder to teach.​

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. Tom enrolled in the Precision Sheet Metal Training Program, made possible through a DEED Pathways to Prosperity grant.

​Tom is 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. He said that it sounded like a good program but he was worried about the math involved in the course as he was not good at fractions. He decided to apply anyway when he 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. He was told that the training moves quickly and is demanding. This meant that he needed to stay on top of his 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 for Tom to go through a Career Pathways Orientation where he would learn more about the training, fill out an application and provide information that determined his

program eligibility (income, reading and math requirements). Tom’s math score, though lower than required, was within the range for adults his 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 Tom’s acceptance into the program. Tom’s Integrated Resource Team also included a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor and an Adult Basic Education (ABE) instructor, who assisted him with his shop math directly. An Individual Learning Plan was implemented to describe his broad life goals and specific training goals. Each team member supported Tom in his training and employment goals and helped him with challenges that arose while he worked hard toward his Certificate of Completion. ​

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