Meet Fearn Gupton

What three words would you use to describe yourself?  

Outgoing, compassionate, and pragmatic.

Please tell us about your job.

I am an apprenticeship consultant with Apprenticeship Carolina, a division of the SC Technical College System. I work with employers across South Carolina to help them develop and maintain registered apprenticeship programs. Acting as liaisons between the employer and the U.S. Department of Labor, the five other consultants and myself guide employers through the registration process, making it as easy and seamless as possible. Each of the consultants provides this assistance for the service areas of their assigned technical colleges. I personally cover the 11 counties served by Northeastern Technical College, Florence-Darlington Technical College, Horry-Georgetown Technical College and Trident Technical College.

What is something that you love about your job?

I love walking out of a meeting and knowing that I have helped an employer effect change within their organization. I helped them solve a problem they were facing and develop a pathway for their employees to grow within the organization. It is also heartening to know that the impact of the meeting extends far beyond that employer’s walls. I have seen apprentices buy their first home and complete their Associates Degree debt-free as a result of their apprenticeship opportunity. My job has a direct impact on the lives of South Carolinians. That’s not a statement everyone can make – what’s not to love?

What drew you to the economic development field?

I was drawn to economic development entirely by accident. In 2015, I decided to go to graduate school for a Master’s in Public Administration at the University of South Carolina. I envisioned myself as the next Leslie Knope working for a small municipality. I was interested in economic development, but I also knew it was very competitive. All my prior experience had been in the private sector, and it didn’t occur to me at the time that this could be an asset. A few months before graduation, the head of my program suggested I apply for the apprenticeship consultant position with Apprenticeship Carolina. The rest is history, and I can now say that economic development is precisely where I am supposed to be.

What are some new and impressive apprenticeship or workforce development programs currently emerging around the state?

There are so many exciting things in the pipeline right now for my team. We are always working to enhance and expand opportunities for youth apprenticeship. We have had several youth apprenticeship signing events across the state for the last month. I’ve personally been working to develop pre-apprenticeship programs in the construction industry that will allow construction companies in the PeeDee and Coastal regions to begin building a pipeline for talent. In addition, I just registered my first cybersecurity apprenticeship program. The information technology industry is a sector where we hope to see continued growth and expansion. We are also excited about developing a line worker pre-apprenticeship program for the utilities industry. These are just a sampling of the many exciting opportunities we have in the works at Apprenticeship Carolina.