17 September 2019


Lily Kneale, a local Laxey resident and student of Languages and Tourism Management at Edinburgh Napier University, has been working on the Town and Village Branding Initiative this summer. The 21 year old, who studied French, Spanish, Tourism and Politics at Ramsey Grammar School, has been working on a retail strategy on behalf of the retail sector that sits within the Business Agency.

 Her work involved collecting data through interviews, survey monkey and focus groups from retailers and consumers about their perceptions of retail on the island. Lily explained that as part of her degree she learns how to maintain the economy, environment and society in a tourist destination. Lily said that, “this of course [was] hugely helpful with trying to create a retail strategy because it’s the same concepts concentrated on smaller area with a retail, rather than tourism, focus.”

Lily enjoyed getting to see the ‘behind the scenes’ of Government by working on the Town Branding project and now has a better understanding of the Isle of Man’s economy. Among the programme’s many benefits, the experience has in particular facilitated her presentation and networking skills. Lily encourages other students to do the STEP programme as it has provided a real boost to her CV and is a welcome break from the usual student summer jobs. Lily hopes to implement the skills, knowledge and experience she’s learnt in the Business Agency at university and hopes to draw upon it when using the Island as a case study.

 Callum Beattie, from Onchan, studying Economics and Politics at Lancaster University, also praised the STEP experience for aiding his presentation and analytical skills – both of which he anticipates putting to use in his final year of university.

Over the course of the summer Callum surveyed Ramsey and Douglas’ major parking sites, businesses and footfall and used an online survey to gauge public perception of the parking situation in Douglas. Callum then identified trends and hotspots using economic analysis skills learnt on his degree course. Callum’s report will be built into the Department for Infrastructure national car parking strategy and will be influencing the Cabinet Office’s Plan for the East.

Callum would recommend the STEP programme to anyone looking to gain an understanding of working life. He says, “Having responsibility over a project provides an exceptional experience in independence and management.” Callum’s experience has even led him to consider working in the public sector post-graduation!

James McGhee, the winner of this year’s most enterprising STEP student award, completed a project on the medicinal cannabis and industrial hemp industry with the Business Agency this summer.

James, who is studying Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge, applied for the STEP programme knowing it would be a good opportunity to gain work experience and to develop business skills that he can apply in his future career. James found it useful to apply his report writing skills, as well as what he’s learnt about the pharmaceutical industry when working on the development of an export-focused medicinal cannabis and industrial hemp industry on the Isle of Man.

James spent his internship researching how the Isle of Man could implement and profit from a medicinal cannabis and industrial hemp industry via comparison of cannabis and CBD laws in various jurisdictions, reviewing worldwide case studies and identifying market opportunities for the Island.

As James enters his final year he reflects back on what he learnt whilst on the STEP programme within the Business Agency. James enjoyed his first-hand experience of the pressures which exist in a ‘real world’ business environment. He said, “I think this will help me with prioritisation and time-management. It will also help me consider economic opportunities as I start to study my specialised topic [and] how the Isle of Man could benefit and develop specialisation in this area.”

 Tom Downey, from Peel, is currently studying General Engineering and Electronics at Durham University. After a fairly uneventful summer last year Tom applied for the STEP programme to get involved with a project that would be both challenging and interesting (and earn money whilst doing it!)

His interest in electronics has led him to consider a career pursuing engineering projects with an environmental focus. This summer Tom interviewed Island businesses to determine the size and scope of the Energy and CleanTech sector on the Isle of Man. Tom explained that due to his engineering background, he was able to engage more thoroughly with the stakeholders when discussing CleanTech. He has written a report with the information he has gathered to help inform the government as to some of the ways in which the Isle of Man could develop its CleanTech sector, some of which he presented to the CleanTech Forum last month.

The STEP programme experience has helped Tom learn and develop skills such as data analysis and time management – both of which he will transfer to his university work. Tom added, “I now feel like I have a greater understanding of how my degree fits into real markets and am looking forward to learning more about these technologies from an academic engineering perspective.”


The Business Agency would like to thank its four 2019 STEP students for their hard work. We wish you good luck with your studies and hope to see you pioneering projects in the near future in the Isle of Man!

Student applications for the 2020 STEP Programme will open in December 2019. The programme is open to all students in the penultimate year of their undergraduate degree. Host organisations wishing to learn more about the programme can do so via this link.