LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) — A coalition of Lancaster educational entities, businesses, and nonprofits have banded together to create Career Ready Lancaster!, a project that aims to help connect job seekers with information about work opportunities in Lancaster County.

The goal of CRL! is to help develop “a community with plentiful opportunities, where everyone can learn, work, and grow, charting their own path to success,” Kevin Ressler, marketing committee co-chair for CRL! and the president and CEO of the United Way of Lancaster County, said.

The coalition launched its website in mid-August. The site provides information for job seekers, parents, and guardians about the career options available in Lancaster. Ressler hopes the website can help “drive people into opportunity.”

CRL! has established the goal that by 2023, all high school seniors will take their next steps with knowledge of their career opportunities and a plan for reaching their career goals. However, the coalition isn’t just aiming to provide information for high school students.

Ressler hopes the group can also help inform caregivers and employees transitioning into new fields. And by bringing together multiple different kinds of community stakeholders, the organization hopes to bridge gaps between schools, job seekers, and employers.

For example, educational entities can learn about which skills employers most want so they can prioritize those in their curriculum and employers can learn about what job seekers are hoping to find in their careers when these various sectors of the community come together.

On top of that, the coalition hopes to introduce all current and future job seekers to the plethora of employment options they have in Lancaster County.

“This is looking to say, every single person deserves the opportunity to chart a path and to not have the barriers that have too often been a part of that conversation before — low-income folks or communities of color or others, where barriers external to their own choice [impede their success] — that needs to be removed,” Ressler said.

In addition to exposing job seekers to various career options, CRL! also hopes to help them learn about the hard and soft skills employers are looking for or the training opportunities they might offer, ultimately helping individuals develop agency in their career paths.

Although the coalition first started coming together about two years ago, its work is especially relevant now as communities around the nation face pandemic-related hiring challenges.

“Work has changed,” Ressler said. Some people who have been working remotely during the pandemic may be ready to get into more hands-on, in-person work, while others may be heading back to the office but looking for an opportunity that will allow them to continue working from home.

“This type of initiative is really helpful because it gives people the ability to know what they don’t know, what are the options out there,” Ressler said.

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The coalition also hopes to encourage people to live and work in Lancaster. With industries ranging from hospitality to agriculture to small business retail to manufacturing, and with urban, suburban, and rural areas all within one county, Ressler said the community has a lot to offer.

“It’s a place that you can raise a family or have fun as a young individual,” Ressler said. “You can live here today, for what you’re doing today, but you can grow into something different here in Lancaster because of the abundance of options.”

The CRL! website can be found here. Learn more on CRL!’s Facebook page. Interested individuals and organizations are invited to reach out to the coalition to get involved.