Added responsibilities for county’s job training director

by Peter Bodley
Managing Editor

Longtime Anoka County Job Training Center director Jerry Vitzthum has been given added responsibilities.

The Anoka County Board has added director of economic assistance to Vitzthum’s job training role.

“The two departments are very much tied together,” said County Administrator Jerry Soma.

And when Edna Hoium retired last year after some 40 years as director of the economic assistance department, formerly known as income maintenance, Vitzthum was asked to take on the job on an interim basis, according to Soma.

It has worked out well so Vitzthum was asked to take on the additional responsibilities on a permanent basis, Soma said.

“The staffs of the two departments work so well,” he said.

Indeed, at the Anoka County Human Services Center in Blaine, the staffs of the two departments are on the same floor.

“They work closely together,” Soma said.

The economic assistance department also has an office at the Anoka County Government Center in Anoka.

According to Soma, money from the economic assistance department goes to the job training center to help people receiving financial assistance through the Minnesota Family Investment Partnership (MFIP) program find work, which is a requirement of the program.

Anoka County Board Chairperson Rhonda Sivarajah “so appreciated” the willingness of Vitzthum to take on the challenge.

Vitzthum has been job training director for the county since 1979.

“It is a role Jerry is very comfortable in and people look to him for guidance and counsel,” Sivarajah said.

This is a totally new role for Vitzthum, she said. “But I know he is very capable, it is a nice blend and Jerry is very good at helping people,” Sivarajah said.

This is a shift in direction, but Sivarajah said she has received positive comments from staff about the change.

“I think we can look forward to many positive outcomes,” said County Commissioner Jim Kordiak.

According to the county website, the job training center provides employment and training services to county residents who are most in need of services.

The highest priority of the center is those who are unemployed, economically disadvantaged and/or face multiple obstacles to gaining employment.

Job training center programs include youth and adult academic enrichment, basic skills and job specific skills training for those that need them.

In addition, for job seekers, the center has access to vocational counseling, job search workshops, labor market information, job search computers, personal computers and career planning workshops.

The county job training center works in partnership with the Minnesota Workforce Center at the human services center location.

The economic assistance department administers a number of services, including cash programs, child support, emergency and food support programs, funeral funds, housing and medical programs.

The goal of the economic assistance department is “to provide programs that support dignity and self-sufficiency,” the department website states.

Peter Bodley is at [email protected]