International Women’s Day celebrated with new film that shows how Orkney firm is paving the way for females in the industry

08/03/2024

SCOTLAND’S largest construction trade association, SELECT, marked International Women’s Day (IWD) with a new film that celebrates the work of a member firm which it says is “a shining light of equality and inclusion”.

Launched on the eve of the global event (March 7), the new video from the campaigning body showcased the achievements of Orkney-based RS Merriman, which employs four female professionals in the front line of the electrical industry.

Entitled Inspiring Inclusion, and available to view on SELECT’s YouTube channel, the film shows the women discussing why they decided to get into the sector and hears how much being a part of the electrical future means to them

Qualified electrician and former Scottish Apprentice of the Year Melanie Smith reveals why she became involved in a traditionally male-dominated industry, telling viewers: “I grew up on a farm and I wanted to be doing something outdoors and something with my hands. I just love that every day is different, going outside and doing different things.”

Fellow spark Charlotte Jarvis also explains her reasons for taking up the tools, adding: “I also wanted a job that was out and about. I get to see all of Orkney this way, doing trips to the isles and everything, instead of being stuck in an office. I like actually making something instead of just sending emails all day.”

Founded just after the war, RS Merriman was instrumental in bringing electricity to the Orkneys, installing street lighting and domestic systems and becoming a key player when oil came to the remote area in the 1980s.

The film shows how the established firm is now pioneering equality of opportunity, with apprentice Shaynee Moar revealing: “I’m quite a practical person. I like problem-solving and fiddly things, so I thought that maybe being an electrician would suit me. I really, really enjoy it.”

Sadie Merriman also discusses her own career journey, which has seen her rise from electrician to Contracts Manager, adding: “I had a bit of an epiphany one day and thought, ‘Why don’t I do an apprenticeship with the family company?’ For quite a number of years I was the only female in the electrical trade in Orkney.”

Alan Wilson, SELECT Managing Director, said: “International Women’s Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and we are pleased to highlight a progressive member company which is putting these aims into practical effect.

“The electrical sector in Scotland is committed to fair work for all and we applaud firms such as RS Merriman who are taking positive steps in the right direction and striving to become a shining light of quality and inclusion.

“However, we all have a part to play and the wider industry would do well to follow its example and aim towards a working environment in which it is unremarkable that women play a full and professional part.”

Produced in partnership with the Scottish Joint Industry Board (SJIB), Scottish Electrical Charitable Training Trust (SECTT) and Unite the Union, the video  also coincides with Scottish Apprenticeship Week, which ends tomorrow (March 8).

Fiona Harper, Director of Employment and Skills at SELECT and The Secretary of the SJIB, said: “As well as celebrating the role of women, this video also emphasise the importance of training and how the industry is getting our apprentices ready to take on the challenges of renewable installation and the transition to net zero.

“Apprentices are the future of the industry and, during Scottish Apprenticeship Week, we hope to encourage many more of them to consider an electrical apprenticeship as a rewarding career option.”

The latest stories