I test rollercoasters at Blackpool Pleasure Beach to make sure they are safe and we need more female engineers

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A female engineering apprentice at Pleasure Beach Resort is calling for women to join the industry as they are still under represented in the field in 2024.

Laura Johnston, 17, helps carry out all kinds of safety checks on rides and rollercoasters at one the UK's favourite theme parks.

Now, the mechanical engineering apprentice, who works at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, is calling for more women to enter the industry (currently just 16.5% of engineers are women). Laura assists in daily, weekly and monthly checks as well as preventative maintenance checks every day before the park opens, which includes work on the wheels, restraints, and breaks of rollercoasters.

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Alongside her theory based studies at Blackpool & The Fylde College, Laura also participates in all of the winter works that take place when the park is closed for the season.

Mechanical Engineering Apprentice Laura Johnson, 17, from Pleasure Beach Resort in Blackpool.Mechanical Engineering Apprentice Laura Johnson, 17, from Pleasure Beach Resort in Blackpool.
Mechanical Engineering Apprentice Laura Johnson, 17, from Pleasure Beach Resort in Blackpool.

Laura said: “Becoming a mechanical engineer, specifically for rollercoasters, has always been my dream. I want to be a firm example to young girls and aspiring engineers that women absolutely belong in this field.”

Women’s Engineering Society reported that in 2022, women make up 16.5% of all engineers, compared to 10.5% reported in 2010, and whilst this represents a 6 percentage point increase in the proportion of women in the engineering workforce, young women like Laura and businesses alike still feel a shift needs to be made.

“The representation of females in the industry has significantly improved over the years, but we still need to campaign to raise the profile of women in engineering.

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“I’m lucky to be part of a company that creates opportunities for women in STEM. I love my job and I’m really excited to see what the future holds for my career”, Laura added.

When is International Women's Day 2024?

International Women’s Day falls on March 8 yearly, and inspires people to campaign for women’s rights across the world. The theme for International Women’s Day 2024 is ‘Inspire Inclusion’ which aims to highlight the importance of diversity and empowerment in all aspects of society.

Breaking down barriers for women

Sara Boswell, Director of HR at Pleasure Beach Resort said: “This movement is about tackling the hurdles that women face and ensuring that they are met with the same, equal opportunities that men are – whether that be in their careers or daily life.”

Laura reached out to Pleasure Beach Resort in February 2023, expressing a keen interest in rollercoasters and engineering. Still in school at the time, Laura enquired about a possible apprenticeship with the Lancashire theme park once she finished her GCSEs. And by September 2023 at the age of 16, Laura uprooted her life, 215 miles away in St Albans, and moved to Blackpool with her mum to begin her Level 3 MOET apprenticeship.

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Jobs and careers at Blackpool Pleasure Beach

Sara added: “At Pleasure Beach Resort, we have a huge variety of career paths, from catering, retail and marketing to engineering, plumbing and electrical. It’s important for us as a business that we provide women with the tools they need to be successful within their chosen field, so when Laura approached us it was a no-brainer to offer her the apprenticeship. Being successful within your team is about being passionate, driven and committed – regardless of gender. We’re so proud of Laura and we are excited to see her continue to make waves in the industry.”

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