Tempe, Arizona (NAPSI) - Good news for people concerned about employment in America today: Well-paying jobs in the manufacturing sector actually, more than 600,000 of them are waiting for workers who have been properly trained.

That’s why now may be the time to take a second look at a career in manufacturing.

Why are so many skilled labor jobs unfilled? Part of it has to do with perception. Many people, especially young people, think a career in manufacturing involves working in noisy, dirty surroundings in a job that gathers little respect and less attention. Those stereotypes may have been more accurate decades ago, but are really not today.

Manufacturing plants and facilities are now highly automated, and it takes a great deal of training and knowledge to operate the machinery and equipment. People can’t simply walk in off the street and get those jobs.

As high school students think about plans following graduation, a career in a skilled labor field isn’t top of mind with most. In fact, a recent poll found that while 70 percent of Americans think manufacturing is the most important industry as far as effect on the national economy goes, only 30 percent say they’d encourage their children to pursue a manufacturing career.

While conventional four-year college programs are a good fit for some, many students would thrive in a technical education program if given the chance. Often in only two years, a young man or woman can get a technical degree, start working a meaningful job that offers career advancement, and make a decent living doing so. The average hourly wage for manufacturing jobs is about $24, according to Businessweek.com.

The private sector is doing its part to encourage manufacturing careers. Many technical schools and community colleges are partnering with Snap-on Incorporated to teach specific disciplines designed to give students added skills to make them more employable. The company is a leading manufacturer of tools, equipment and diagnostics for the transportation, aviation, aerospace and manufacturing sectors, and has developed certification programs for students to receive extra training in certain technical disciplines.

The goal of the Snap-on certifications is not to teach how machinery operates or how an aircraft flies, but rather, to show students the proper and best way to use specific tools and equipment to become more productive in their jobs.

Most Snap-on certification courses comprise 16 hours of instruction and are blended into the school’s existing technical course program. More than 100 technical schools across the country offer certifications as part of their curriculum. To facilitate the certifications in the partnering schools, Snap-on works with the National Coalition of Certification Centers (NC3), an organization that validates and oversees the certification assessment standards.

For more information on the certification program or to see a list of participating schools, visit www1.snapon.com/Education.