Education has always been the main focal point at MAPPS conferences, but this week’s event, held in Rockport, Maine, features one session particularly geared toward education for the current workplace.

Dr. Jim Page is scheduled to lead a session called “Education for the 21st Century Workplace,” which will discuss issues concerning the future workforce coming into the education system, including a shift in the traditional learning environment due to recent factors, such as the economy and changing demographics. He also will talk about new opportunities that have surfaced due to the changes.

Another relatively new discussion is related to privacy.

Privacy, laws and regulation issues have come to the forefront the last couple years, says Nick Palatiello, assistant executive director for external affairs at MAPPS. He said the privacy session will focus on how people use technology to store data and extracting information related to identity privacy issues. “This is a hot topic right now,” Palatiello said.

Also new this summer will be a presentation on a study done by a Boston consulting group, which is the first market study from a geospatial perspective. “We’re asked frequently for studies and how much government is spending on geospatial markets,” Palatiello said.  “This gives us insight into how much economic growth there is in the profession itself.”

Palatiello said he expects attendees to come away from the conference with knowledge of changes to expect and what will affect them in the near future.

“They'll get knowledge of markets to go after in the short-term and long-term, as well as future opportunities,” he said. “Networking is one thing MAPPS prides itself on, and business development: working with one another to get more business and preparing your future down the road, creating educational opportunities for the future workforce.

“The most important thing they’ll receive is what will impact them 16, 18 months down the road.”

Page, a former MAPPS board of directors’ member and currently chancellor at the University of Maine, said his session will discuss recent changes that present challenges to education, such as the economy, demographics and a shift in traditional education.

"There is an enormous challenge to traditional education as they have to adapt rapidly to change in technology," Page said. "The younger kids going into college today have never known life without the Internet; there are different expectations on how they process data and gather information."

Page said there has also been a shift in the traditional college demographic as more people seek to adapt to changing careers. "The standard four-year college degree is becoming an increasingly rare phenomenon," he said.

At the same time, many changes are positive, Page said. Because students are getting more knowledge and experience before they begin college, they will spend less time on basic courses, offering opportunities for better engagement and freeing up their time to do more lab work, he said.

"With great challenges, there are more opportunities to engage," Page said. "It's a culture change."