New voices in construction: Jade Kennedy

by | May 5, 2021

 

Insight from the next generation of construction talent

Jade Kennedy, 21, is an apprentice electrician

Jade Kennedy is an old head on young shoulders.

Still 21, the Crumlin woman has, since January, been working on one of the most vital buildings under construction in the country – the new National Children’s Hospital on the campus of St. James’s Hospital in central Dublin.

is a novice and an apprentice starting down the busy road of becoming an electrician.

Currently she is serving her time with Mercury Engineering, the Irish-based Europe-wide engineering contractor, and despite the mountain of regulations and precautions necessitated by COVID-19, she could not be happier.

“I’m really enjoying it, there’s a lot more to it than I ever expected, but everyone treats me really well,” Jade said of her experience working at one of the biggest hospitals the state has ever built.

Her route to where she is now, on the first year of her apprenticeship, was circuitous.

Unfortunately at St Louis High School, an all-girls school in Rathmines, apprenticeships were not something that were broached, something which Jade would love to rectify as she progresses in her career.

After graduation from St Louis, Jade tried a few different things, but nothing suited her.

It was only when a friend introduced her to Technological University Dublin and its Access to Apprenticeship Program, did she find her vocation.

Perhaps though it’s not entirely surprising Jade has chosen a trade – her father is a tradesman, but he had been steering her more in the direction of pursuing a role in health and safety in the construction industry.

Jade finally found her calling from the courses on offer at TU Dublin.

While on the program Jade and the other female students received mentoring from former graduates.

“They talked to us about their challenges, about what they faced. Everyone was more than helpful,” she said.

From the Access Program, Jade completed her work experience with Mercury Engineering, an experience which she really enjoyed and it’s where she is now serving out the start of her apprenticeship.

There’s a lot of learning to each day’s work she says, and there’s a lot to navigate while working through a pandemic.

Along with all the workers on site she’s tested for COVID-19 every week, and the health and safety officers check in with workers constantly. Right now a lot of the work Jade is undertaking is preparing the infrastructure for the wiring.

Further down the road she’ll move off site, and she’ll have to get her head around the mathematical side of things.

“But I really enjoy maths, it’s one of the reasons I did the apprenticeship,” she said.

If you were CEO what’s the first thing you would do?

“I would definitely promote worker welfare for all the people working for me.”

That’s a lesson Jade has learned from working with Mercury.

“In here you feel appreciated, you actually feel like a human being who’s cared for. You’re not just a worker who’s coming in for a job.”

As Jade said, her colleagues are always checking in on her, and if there’s anything she needs to talk about, either work-related or not, she knows there’s someone there who’ll listen.

While women are certainly in the minority on site, Jade said that both TU Dublin and Mercury are doing great work to get more women into the industry.

While she’s only starting out, Jade would also like to pay it back, and that begins back in her former school.

“I’d love to be able to promote apprenticeships,” she said, acknowledging that the route from school straight to college is not for everyone.

“Some people learn differently. I know for a fact if I just sat there I wouldn’t learn anything” – but if she with learning by doing, as with an apprenticeship, she’s flying.

She also thinks that partly what’s missing from the curriculum in schools is showcasing the array of work and projects tradeswomen and men work on.

For example, in constructing world class hospitals. Just as Jade is.

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