Leo Blud: conquering challenges to shine as a Young Builder of the Year finalist
We are always delighted to recognise the resilience, determination and achievements of young construction professionals. Leo Blud is one such individual who has risen above significant challenges to become a finalist in the 2023 Young Builder of the Year awards. Every year, Youthbuild UK recognises the outstanding achievements of young individuals in the construction industry. In this year’s awards, Leo stands out as an inspiring example of what young people can achieve when they are given opportunities and support, regardless of the challenges they face.
Leo grew up in a single-parent, Gypsy family with two younger siblings. Due to cultural and socio-economic demands, Leo was withdrawn from formal education immediately after finishing primary school, following traditional gender roles in the Gypsy community. He then took on the role of a breadwinner at a young age, a responsibility that became even more crucial due to his mother's health issues. However, Leo's lack of formal education limited his vocabulary, confidence, and, subsequently, job opportunities.
Despite this, Leo's unique upbringing also instilled in him a strong work ethic and resilience. He obtained his driving license, purchased a car, and secured insurance, displaying resourcefulness beyond his years.
Between the ages of eleven and eighteen, Leo worked various jobs, earning an income for himself and his family. These experiences provided him with valuable life skills and taught him the importance of hard work.
At the age of eighteen, Leo began a development course with Pembrokeshire County Council, working toward literacy, numeracy, and digital literacy qualifications. It was during this time that he was introduced to Cyfle Building Skills, and at the age of 19, Leo embarked on a journey of education and skills development with the support of the CITB funded SWW Onsite Hub and our Shared Apprenticeship Scheme.
Leo is currently pursuing a Level II Maintenance qualification, a two-year program encompassing brickwork, plastering, carpentry, painting, and plumbing. He works with a variety of construction teams, gaining experiences in all aspects of the field.
Leo's placements, organised by us here at Cyfle, have been transformative. He has demonstrated exceptional work ethic, hand skills, and a positive attitude, earning him respect and praise from his colleagues and mentors.
Leo's journey has been marked by his ability to thrive in various teams. His early working life equipped him with teamwork skills, making him an integral part of any group. From his work experience with Pembrokeshire County Council to his current position with Karn Construction, Leo's contributions have been consistently praised.
When asked what he enjoys most, Leo's response speaks volumes: "Keeping my job and staying in education." Despite facing unique challenges, Leo is dedicated to his career pathway and education, displaying unwavering commitment.
As an apprentice, Leo has excelled. His impeccable timekeeping, attendance, and positive attitude have made him a valuable asset to his employers. In fact, Leo's eagerness to work is so strong that he has to be reminded to take annual leave.
As has been said, Leo is currently working toward a Level II Maintenance award, and is also pursuing literacy, AON, and digital literacy qualifications. His achievements are a testament to his determination and commitment.
Upon completing his Level II Maintenance qualification, Leo plans to step into a plumbing apprenticeship. His long-term goal is to set up his own business in the engineering field, reflecting his ambition and dedication.
Leo may not be one to offer advice readily, but he shares this:
"You should always try something at least once and maybe more than that. Dig in when things get tough, whether it is in work, home, or education."
Under the guidance of Paul Falzon, Leo has thrived in his apprenticeship since September 2022. Leo's journey serves as a powerful reminder that with determination, hard work, and the right opportunities, young individuals can overcome challenges and achieve greatness in the construction industry. Leo's story is an inspiration to all, and we wish him every success in the forthcoming Youthbuild UK final and his future career.