AUSTIN (KXAN) — For the first time, organizers at Workforce Solutions Rural Capital Area (WSRCA) will host an online job fair. Organizers were in the process of transitioning into the online world, but COVID-19 sped up that effort.

Organizers said now their goal is to ensure every job seeker benefits from the virtual career expo.

“It’s so important that we think about what resources they have and the circumstances they’re in order to be able to offer services in the community we are looking to serve,” said Cara DiMattina-Ryan, the organization’s chief strategy officer.

While normally WSRCA offers in-person job fairs, COVID-19 has temporarily put a stop to that option. The organization said the virtual tool is the best option to connect job seekers with employers.

“We know that most of our areas do you have access to the internet in some capacity,” she said.

Workforce Solutions said the counties with the most people and most job losses are also the best equipped to rehire quickly in a virtual environment.

“They’re also the ones with the most amount of infrastructure, so this opportunity might be a stronger resource for those counties but it will be a resource for all nine (counties) ultimately,” DiMattina-Ryan said.

Here’s a snapshot of unemployment claims from WSCRA from March 25 through April 25.

It shows the number of unemployment insurance claims filed in the Workforce Solutions Rural Capital Area’s nine-county area.

Williamson County accounted for nearly 60% of the unemployment claims filed in the nine-county region. About a quarter of the unemployment claims filed were in Hays County. In Bastrop County, unemployment claims made up less than 10%. Lee and Llano counties tied at just 1%. However, the numbers do not account for those who continue to attempt to file an unemployment insurance claim but have been unsuccessful.

Despite infrastructure obstacles in other counties, organizers believe the virtual expo will be a success.

“It’s a big deal to be able to just click a button and see all these opportunities versus having to get in your car and drive in traffic 30 minutes to figure out what opportunities are in your area,” she said. “Especially for those who maybe didn’t feel comfortable doing it in person in the past where this is a different opportunity for them.”

Workforce Solutions organizers said they would be open to figuring out a safe, socially distant in-person option for those who require it. They also said their goal is to eventually offer a hybrid job fair with both in-person and online elements. At last check, about 500 people had signed up for today’s event with 200 to 300 jobs available.

You can register for the job fair at the organization’s website.