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.

Dislocated Worker Program: 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

WorkForce Center Services:
​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
Sierra photo

My name is Sierra and 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

My name is Stephanie and I was introduced the opportunity to participate in the Office & Administrative Technology class just two weeks before it began in early 2016 after struggling to find work that would support myself and my infant son – this was mainly because all my experience was in food & customer service. After hustling through getting all the entrance testing and orientations, I found myself completely submerged in all things Microsoft, typing, and Office work preparation.

While growing up and being familiarized with the Microsoft Suite, I had never imagined the depths one can go into how easily they all correlate and transfer information so seamlessly. The OATS class was very fast-paced and a lot of information all at once, but the educators and fellow peers were so helpful and knowledgeable. We all worked together to troubleshoot and find results when we hit a tough task. The OATS Navigator and educators would press us to practice our “Elevator speeches”, hone our resumes, and learn how to answer interviewing questions – on top of learning the Microsoft Office 2013 Suite. Everyone worked together to help others find transferrable skills from their experience and education to work as an advantage while interviewing. There was a huge sense of comradery between everyone involved, we all wanted each other to succeed. So not only did the class help me with my Hard Skills (typing, specialist certifications, and training) but it helped me to establish and grow my Soft Skills (interviewing, communication, customer service, professionalism).

​I successfully completed the OATS and Microsoft Office portion of the class, receiving the three certifications available upon completion: Master’s Certificate in Microsoft Office, Microsoft Office Word Specialist, and Microsoft Office Excel Specialist.

​ Following the completion of the class I participated in an internship with Anoka County Community Social Services & Behavioral Health as an Office Support Assistant. As soon as that had finished I was offered the opportunity to work in the Child Protection Unit as a temp Office Support Assistant, and a Project Manager for Budget & Technology as a temp.

​October of 2016 I was offered a full-time regular position with Anoka County Property Records and Taxation. After the 6-month mandatory probationary period for all new-full/regular hires, I am now a permanent full-time Anoka County employee not even a full year after completing the OATS Training.

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.