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Manufacturing and Industry 4.0 in Ohio. An Interview with Ritch Ramey of RAMTEC

Interview with RAMTEC Ohio Coordinator, Ritch Ramey, about manufacturing in Ohio, the skills gap, RAMTEC and Industry 4.0
We are excited to have Ritch Ramey as a guest on our Industry 4.0 Blog. Ritch is the state coordinator for RAMTEC Ohio. He is responsible for the advancement of the 22 statewide RAMTEC Ohio Robotics, Machining and Automation centers. Ritch has been instructing students in the CTE space for over 30 years.

How important is manufacturing for Ohio?
According to the National Manufacturer’s association manufacturers in Ohio account for 16.63% of the total output in the state, employing 12.56% of the workforce. Total output from manufacturing was $107.95 billion in 2017. In addition, there were an average of 699.06 thousand manufacturing employees in Ohio in 2018, with an average annual compensation of $74,679.97 in 2017.
The Ohio leadership, led by Lieutenant Governor Husted, is placing significant emphasis on maintaining Ohio’s position as a front runner in manufacturing across the US, as well as in adoption and implementation of new technologies in manufacturing and investment in workforce development.

How acute is the skills gap?
Different reports that I have read show that in 2018 approximately 700,000 jobs openings in manufacturing across the US were not filled due to lack of skilled applicants. Speaking with employers in Ohio, talent acquisition is one of their biggest challenges. They are faced with a competitive labor market, baby boomers that are retiring and a younger generation that has a perception issue about jobs in manufacturing. We must help solve the skills gap to enable our industries to grow.

How does the RAMTEC model address training and the skills gap?
RAMTEC was formed as a one-stop-shop to enable secondary, post-secondary and incumbent employees to get trained and certified on the most up to date technologies used in industry. Partnering with high schools, colleges and industry, the RAMTEC centers get a constant flow of trainees. As the RAMTEC training aligns with industry needs, the students that graduate our programs are in high demand.
RAMTEC has 22 centers across the state and uses industry grade equipment for its training. We work with industry partners such as Yaskawa, Parker, Lincoln, Mitsubishi, Universal, Miller, Haas, Mazak, Fanuc and Allen Bradley. Robotics and automation have become a key area in which industry lacked skilled employees. Together with our industry partners we developed programs that lead to certification which is recognized at the state level as credit for graduation.

How does Industry 4.0 affect the skills gap?
Industry 4.0 poses new challenges in training. We have been working with different organizations such as ARM (Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing) and the Ohio Manufacturers Association to map the skills for Industry 4.0. and define roles in the organization. As manufacturers will have to deal with many different systems such as electrical, mechanical, robots, vision, IIOT sensors, networks and data – the key requirement becomes interoperability and problem solving.
Industry is adjusting quickly to Industry 4.0 in order to stay competitive, and we will need to provide the training solutions that will suit both the fast movers, as well as organizations that will slowly shift to Industry 4.0.

Seeing how robotics and automation is becoming so dominant in industry, how does that change education, if at all?
My role is to promote, support and advocate for the advancement of K to Gray robotics, automation, and Industry 4.0 career pathways for all the citizens of Ohio. There is more that can be done in our education system to introduce technology to students at a younger age. Robotics, automation, and computational thinking are all a form of literacy that more of our graduates will need to master in order to become employable. Technology programs such as Vex, First, Cyber Robotics Coding Competition, Best, BattleBots, thenrc.org and Lego are mostly part of after school programs or of a CTE program.
We have recently partnered with companies such as Honda, Yaskawa and First Energy through grants to add after school Vex IQ elementary, competitions and library programs. We are also are working with the REC Foundation, Vex and ARM to develop a stronger Robotics and Automation pathway as well as micro-credentialing for K to 12 students. RAMTEC Ohio in collaboration with ARM, Ohio Manufacturing Association and Ohio TechNet is working on building an Industry 4.0 pathway and micro-credentialing program. Many other states and organizations as well as great educational and industry support companies like Intelitek are helping America better equip and enable students of all ages to become better prepared for the exciting and great paying careers that will be available to them though our world’s transformation into Industry 4.0. We are excited to also be working with major robotic and automation companies to build state of the art training and delivery systems for students, instructors and industry. These new training programs will better engage the trainer and the trainee as well as delivery JIT training.
We look forward to what RAMTEC Ohio and the nation is developing to build a transformative training program.

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