Businesses flag worker shortage concerns in Allianz Risk Barometer 2022

The shortage of a skilled workforce is a new entry in the top 10 risks at number nine in the latest assessment of key risks facing companies: the 2022 Allianz Risk Barometer.

According to the study, attracting and retaining workers has rarely been more challenging. Respondents rank this as a top five risk in the engineering, construction, real estate, public service and healthcare sectors, and as the top risk for transportation.

Cyber perils are the biggest concern for companies globally in 2022, according to the survey.

The threat of ransomware attacks, data breaches or major IT outages worries companies even more than business and supply chain disruption, natural disasters or the COVID-19 pandemic, all of which have heavily affected firms in the past year.

Pandemic outbreak drops from second to fourth position from last year’s survey, as a majority of companies say they are less concerned and feel adequately prepared for future outbreaks.

Natural catastrophes and climate change rise significantly in the annual rankings from sixth to third as extreme weather events and transition risks mount.

“’Business interrupted’ will likely remain the key underlying risk theme in 2022,” AGCS CEO Joachim Mueller said.

“For most companies the biggest fear is not being able to produce their products or deliver their services. 2021 saw unprecedented levels of disruption, caused by various triggers. Crippling cyber-attacks, the supply chain impact from many climate change-related weather events, as well as pandemic-related manufacturing problems and transport bottlenecks wreaked havoc.”

“This year only promises a gradual easing of the situation, although further COVID-19-related problems cannot be ruled out. Building resilience against the many causes of business interruption is increasingly becoming a competitive advantage for companies.”

In the UK cyber ranked number one, mirroring the global result, with a growing percentage of respondents identifying this as the primary peril for the year (50% up from 42% in 2021).

Business Interruption once again ranked in the top three for the UK, this year taking second place (34%) up from third last year.

In the wake of COP26, climate change was the biggest increase for the UK, moving to third in the rankings from sixth last year (31% up from just 17% in 2021).

Ransomware drives cyber concerns while awareness of BI vulnerabilities grows. Cyber incidents ranks as a top three peril in most countries surveyed, the main driver being the recent well-documented surge in ransomware attacks, which are confirmed as the top cyber threat for the year ahead by survey respondents (57%).

Indeed, AGCS said that recent attacks have shown worrying trends  such as ‘double extortion’ tactics combining the encryption of systems with data breaches; exploiting software vulnerabilities which potentially affect thousands of companies or targeting physical critical infrastructure.

Cyber security also ranks as companies’ major environmental social governance (ESG) concern with respondents acknowledging the need to build resilience and plan for future outages or face the growing consequences from regulators, investors and other stakeholders.

“Ransomware has become a big business for cyber criminals, who are refining their tactics, lowering the barriers to entry for as little as a $40 subscription and little technological knowledge. The commercialization of cyber-crime makes it easier to exploit vulnerabilities on a massive scale. We will see more attacks against technology supply chains and critical infrastructure,” explained Scott Sayce, global head of Cyber at AGCS.

Attracting and retaining workers has rarely been more challenging. Respondents rank this as a top five risk in the engineering, construction, real estate, public service and healthcare sectors, and as the top risk for transportation.

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