WINSLOW, Maine — Maine is desperately trying to keep more people working in the state.
To remove the barriers that can come with finding a job, like transportation or distance, one organization is trying a new kind of job fair. It's a virtual one.
The new platform has already been tested with one of the largest groups of people entering the job market this spring: high school students.
"This is a really great way to have these opportunities presented to us and it can be done in the most convenient way for everybody," said Winslow High School junior Aaron Harmon.
Harmon's class tested the pilot program, which virtually connects employers with prospective employees
"Employers will use video chat to connect with job seekers and students from across the state of Maine from the convenience of their home, office, library, or campus," said Central Maine Growth Council's development coordinator, Elaine Theriault-Currier.
Employers at Central Maine Motors in Waterville took the first test drive with the high school students.
"Whether [or not] you start with us, we want to give you the best experience possible," said Central Maine Motors owner, Chris Gaunce. "If you end up working someplace else, that's great."
"Becoming a part of the automobile industry wasn't ever something that I considered before today and I didn't know how to get my foot in the door of that industry, but now I do," said Harmon.
The same kind of video call made between Central Maine Motors and the Winslow High School class will be made on a much larger scale later this week, at a first of its kind Maine virtual job fair.
"We're trying to make the job search and talent search most convenient," said Theriault-Currier. "By developing this virtual platform, we are reducing critical barriers to job search and talent search. We're reducing transportation, geography, climate, and time constraints. Anyone can connect from wherever there's an internet connection."
Theriault-Currier said high school students are an increasingly attractive talent pool for employers.
It's why she decided to test this new job interview platform with the Winslow high students.
"We all want to make sure that every high school student has the opportunity and is well prepared to take on a career opportunity across Maine," added Theriault-Currier.
"Being able to connect with people virtually is really important these days because the job market is so tight," added Gaunce, via video chat. "We have to be able to connect with people where they are. Five years ago, we didn't do any of this stuff. None of it. Today, it's critical to our business."
The virtual job fair is open to the public, not only high school students, and is scheduled for Tuesday, May 7. You can click here to connect to the online portal.