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.

My vocational counselor 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; monthly bus passes for job search, Bravura Training to achieve a QuickBooks User Certification and Referral and fitting for Dress for Success for interview clothing.  I also attended workshops at the WorkForce Center - Creative Job Search, Polishing Your Resume, Career Exploration, Networking, Creating Your Resume, Advanced Interviewing Skills and 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.

Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP)

Mark enrolled in Anoka County’s SCSEP in October 2013 with the intention of obtaining part-time employment. He has seen his struggles in life, he has been homeless and in 1999 he had been in a car accident leaving him with some employment limitations.

Following an initial assessment by his counselor, Mark was placed through SCSEP in a part-time work experience as a Processor at Salvation Army in Fridley. 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. He knew he had some changing to do and Salvation Army helped him through that process. The first year the program helped Mark learn how to work with people. Mark remembers having to leave the work site to take a break because at times it was difficult to deal with some people. One year later, 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. He goes on to say that Mark is detail orientated and works with a sense of urgency. Mark’s supervisor has used his work performance as an example for others on how they should work.

​ Mark will be completing the program in November, 2017. He has already applied and has been offered a permanent position with Salvation Army. When Mark completed his application could confidently use his supervisor as a reference. Mark finds the experience with Salvation Army as humbling. Mark states, “I just do the best I can, I try, that is all I can do.”

Youth Program
job searching

I was referred to Empowers, Anoka County Minnesota Youth Program, by my school’s inclusion and diversity coordinator in the fall of 2016.. I 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.

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

​I will continue to work at Adventure’s Plus over the summer through Empowers and have 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 during one of the coldest months of the year in the upper Midwest - the middle of December, 2014 - when a friend encouraged them to do so describing Minnesota as a friendly and helpful place to live. They 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.

Upon relocating to Minnesota, 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 both advice and assistance. Their Vocational Counselor through the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) connected them with Cars for Neighbors, and though Jimmy and Jeannot really didn’t believe receiving a donated vehicle was possible, 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 and the donated car they received through Cars for Neighbors has been invaluable in allowing them both to get to work and school.

​Jeannot also 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 at Catholic Elder Care, and the hours are perfect in allowing her to continue her degree in Nursing at Anoka Ramsey Community College, while juggling home life with 2 small children.

​Jimmy continues to receives support through the Job Training Centers Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act Program (WIOA) 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. Congratulations to both Jimmy and Jeannot!

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
Sierra photo

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


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 and my counselor 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 worked together with the 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


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.