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)

Janis Christensen began her work assignment thru Anoka County’s Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) in the spring of 2014. She was placed at Facilities Management in Anoka at the Government Center as a Clerical Aide. Her responsibilities included receptionist duties, accounting assistance, spreadsheet work, answering phones and creating/revising special projects. Through this training program, Janis has shown growth in many areas related to her quality and understanding of the ”big picture” and strong connections she makes on her day to day responsibilities of building relationships with customers.

Her supervisors describe her as having excellent interactions with customers and very pleasant to work with. Janis’s training with the SCSEP program gave her the experience she needed to apply and be hired with Anoka County. She was hired as an Office Support Assistant for 29 hrs. a week in Facilities Management. We wish Janis success in her new endeavor.

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)


In August of 2015 Felipe Ruiz lost his manufacturing manager job as the company shut down and moved to India. With a wife and 8 children to take care of, Felipe felt little to no hope for the future. After Felipe lost his job, he began searching the job market to find suitable employment that will earn him enough income to take care of his family.

Felipe enrolled in the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) at the Anoka County Job Training Center and began working with a senior vocational counselor. After some career exploration, Felipe expressed high interest as a truck driver. Later researching the requirements to obtain a CDL Class A license, Felipe took the CDL Class A permit exam and after numerous attempts, Felipe finally obtained his permit. A few weeks after obtaining his CDL permit, Felipe applied to many truck driving companies. Within days and weeks, Felipe received 15 pre hire letters from various companies.

​The next step for Felipe was to take the CDL Class A training program to obtain his license. After discussing this with his senior vocational counselor, the Anoka County Job Training Center approved his CDL training at Century College. This fast track 4 week course was difficult for Felipe. After week 2, Felipe called his senior vocational counselor and requested to drop out of the program as he had little hope he would pass the license exam due to little time to get the vast amount of information down. After some brainstorming with his counselor, Felipe decided to complete the program. With 14 hours per day of studying on top of job searching, Felipe obtained his CDL Class A license! Felipe was one of the two in the class of 15 students to pass the exam.

​During this time Felipe was very hopeful and advised his fellow students that determination and studying countless hours helped Felipe pass the exam. Days after the training ended, Felipe began a 3 week training program in Wisconsin at Schneider International. This was not easy for Felipe as he spent 12 hour days studying and would be away from his family for 3 weeks. After Felipe passed the weekly exams and successfully completed the training program at Schneider International, Felipe was offered a full-time job with benefits as a local truck driver for US Foods. Felipe accepted the offer at US Foods and his family’s income has increased substantially for him to exit the Minnesota Family Investment Program in these next coming months. Felipe is now very hopeful and excited to comfortably take care of his family and buy a home this year.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Employment & Training

In fall of 2015 following a two year break from temporary and seasonal employment, I entered SNAP Employment & Training Program looking for permanent employment. I attended orientation and was assigned to work with an Employment Service Counselor at the Blaine WorkForce Center.

I have US Military service and a history of working good paying but mostly seasonal and temporary jobs: I wanted to find a permanent position with good pay and decent benefits doing manufacturing, order selection or working in a warehouse.

On recommendation of my counselor, I started by attending the Career Exploration Workshop to look at what my real job goals are and the related skills I already have as well as review training options. I then attended networking groups and job club to help me focus on finding a match for my skills, interests and salary/benefit requirements. Finding a ‘fit’ for my skills and interests was easy: finding an employer to offer me permanent employment and benefits was difficult.

My counselor helped me stay motivated and offered suggestions on my resume, cover letters and interviewing techniques. I was able to use the Resource Center to locate good job leads and started to apply for positions. After interviewing and going on a ‘ride along’, I have been hired by Frito-Lay as a warehouse tech.

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

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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)

​DEI 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.