More Than a Job

PPL’s Latest Job Training Program Starts Career Paths, Fills Local Workforce Needs

Carmen, a recent graduate of PPL’s job training programs, at her new job at Hennepin County.

Carmen heard new and exciting things were happening at Hennepin County. She was eager to work there and be part of their future, but found it competitive to get an interview, even with her experience. A new PPL training program opened a door for her.

“I’d heard about the County’s efforts to diversify their staff, about how many people were retiring, and about how things were changing,” Carmen said. “I wanted to be part of that. This class felt like the best opportunity.”

PPL’s Office Specialist employment training program, in partnership with Hennepin County, trains participants like Carmen for positions that provide customer service and support for county services, complete with hands-on experience before graduation. While the program trains for a specific job position, all parties hope it’s the start of much more.

Your support of PPL helps create employment readiness programs that prepare people for more than the next job—it helps get them started on a career path. Carmen is now an Office Specialist in the county’s Human Resources department. She hopes, with experience and time, to make a career there.

“It’s a new opportunity and a new adventure,” Carmen said. “I want to be a success story six months from now, a year from now. We’ll see where it goes.”

The same is true for Anwer, who came to PPL’s program just days after arriving in Minnesota from his home county of Yemen. Though he had experience working in government, he was unsure about his job prospects.

“Coming from a third-world country to America, I had my fears,” Anwer said. “With this training, I became very confident in what I could do.”

The training’s focus on job and professional skills helped Anwer understand what working in an American office would be like.

His dedication during the six week program was admirable. Anwer spent his days in class while working at night in a restaurant. By the end of the class, Anwer could see all his hard work paying off.

“I was at it 80 to 90 hours a week, between class and work,” Anwer said. “Graduation was the most memorable moment, seeing the fruit of my efforts, and seeing how this had changed the lives of my classmates.”

Every graduate of the program landed a job with Hennepin County, including Anwer, who is working in the Sheriff’s Office. They credit the support of PPL staff with helping make it possible.

“My classmates were people with a lot of great experience and not a lot of opportunity,” Carmen said. “The program is good, and the staff is fantastic. When you have an environment like that, how can you not succeed?”

All the graduates from PPL’s Office Specialist training program are now working in roles at Hennepin County.

All the graduates from PPL’s Office Specialist training program are now working in roles at Hennepin County.

Filling a Local Workforce Need

For Hennepin County, the Office Specialist program is part of a larger effort. With over a third of the county’s workers expected to retire in the next five years, programs like this and others at PPL help train qualified people to fill needed roles. By working with organizations like PPL, the county hopes to diversify its workforce to better represent county residents. That’s something that drew Carmen to the program.

“My interest lies in developing the staff to provide great service to the residents of the County,” Carmen said. “It’s hard to truly help someone unless you understand their culture, and the new mindset here to have a staff that represents those we serve is the biggest thing. I see that change coming and it’s great.”

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