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)
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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
job searching

Alexis Roberts was referred to Empowers, Anoka County Minnesota Youth Program, by her school’s inclusion and diversity coordinator in the fall of 2016. Alexis 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 provides 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 Alexis’ high academic standing she earned multiple academic scholarships to help pay for her schooling.

​ Alexis 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)


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


Hello, my name is Heidi Wells! I am very thankful to have been accepted into the Anoka County’s On-the-Job Training program through the Dislocated Worker Program.

My unexpected journey began on September 28, 2016 when I and my co-workers received notice that Regency Beauty Institute, where I had been working as an Admissions Representative for the past five years, was closing their doors, effective immediately. I enjoyed being the initial point of contact for prospective students, helping and guiding them as they learned more about our cosmetology school, scheduling tours, problem solving, cross training within different departments and working together as a team. I was scared, upset and had no idea where to begin looking for a new job.

​ I applied for and was accepted into the Dislocated Worker Program where I met Mary Walker. Mary helped guide me with updating my resume and encouraged me to take multiple job hunting and interview classes through Anoka County WorkForce Center. I interviewed for a Patient Coordinator position at Fifth Avenue Dental in Anoka. This was my "dream job", but unfortunately, I would need additional training. The On-the-Job Training program allowed Fifth Avenue Dental the opportunity to train me! This truly was a "win/win" situation for all! My Office Manager, Liz worked together with Carol Grinde, from Anoka County WorkForce Center to create a training plan. After 90 days of training, I am now very comfortable with dental vocabulary, insurance coding and billing, scheduling for the office, Eaglesoft practice management, patient registration, collections/accounts receivable and OSHA/HIPPA procedures.

​ As my journey continues, I LOVE being a Patient Coordinator at Fifth Avenue Dental! I am forever grateful for this program. This program not only offers on the job training, but it helps give positive encouragement, opportunity and truly benefits both the employee and the employer. Thank you again for this amazing opportunity!

Precision Sheet Metal


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

Betita started the PSM program in January by attending the Career Connections Workshop, which she thoroughly enjoyed. She remembers a good reminder from the workshop that helps her to this day, “Have a plan!” It helps her to think ahead and be more prepared for everything in her life. She then completed 40 hours of Shop Math through Metro North ABE, which she said was “a great refresher” for her 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. She said 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, Betita was chosen by the Instructors to give a speech about her experience in PSM training. After the ceremony was over, she stayed and met with employers that were there recruiting graduates. She had three job offers by the end of the night! She accepted a job offer from Pentair/SMX in Anoka as a Machine Operator earning $15.00/hour. She said “PSM Training has given her 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. 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.