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Environment Dominates the Risk Outlook of Younger Stakeholders

Economic, environmental and domestic political risks all dominate the short-term concerns of respondents to the Global Risks Perception Survey. Its results are presented in the 2020 Global Risks Report from the World Economic Forum, produced with support from Marsh McLennan and other partners. 

The first column shows risks that are expected to increase by the WEF’s multistakeholder community, while the second column shows the concerns of WEF’s younger constituents. 

It illustrates the different priorities of each group, with the latter being much more focused on climate change and its impacts. 

Economic confrontations and their effects on trade — complicated by protectionism and the lack of a resolution to 2019’s trade war — mostly concern the group of WEF multistakeholders, along with the potential for a recession in a major economy.  

Economic inequality and social issues are another focal point: The domestic political fractures and protests seen in 2019 are expected to continue as people demand more from and remain critical of their governments. Without social stability, countries will find it more difficult to address key global issues, the report says. 

The interrelated nature of global risks complicates their potential solutions, for example, “a growth in nationalist policies risk[s] preventing meaningful action,” against climate change, the report notes. 

Universities See 1 Million Student Decline Since Start of Pandemic in US

Higher education enrollment in the United States fell a further 2.7% in 2021, according to new estimates by The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. This follows a 2.5% drop from the preceding fall. In total, 938,000 fewer students have enrolled in colleges since the fall of 2019, before the pandemic, the center estimates.

Private for-profit four-year colleges saw the biggest drop, with 11% less students enrolling in 2021. Followed by community colleges (-3.4%) and public four-year colleges (-3.8%). Private nonprofit colleges were least impacted, with a 1.5% decrease.

The trend in college enrollment indicates more are inclined to join the labor market directly — taking minimum-wage jobs in part because rates have risen under increasing pressure and a competitive job market. Even more are turning toward trade schools in lieu of traditional universities. This also comes at a time when universities are navigating the COVID-19 landscape, with many courses shifting toward remote instruction.

Electric Autonomous Vehicles Have Huge Potential for the Freight Industry

Autonomous vehicles have come a long way since 1925, when the first radio-controlled car was driven around Manhattan’s streets, without anyone at the steering wheel. 

Last year, autonomous vehicles hit the roads in a myriad of ways. Walmart deployed fully driverless trucks to transport groceries between stores in Arkansas, while autonomous vehicle companies raised an average of $650 million for 2021. Amazon acquired several autonomous vehicle companies, pledging to buy 1,000 autonomous trucks in the process. 

With heavy duty vehicles accounting for about 19% of greenhouse gas emissions in the EU, according to a report by Marsh McLennan, the next phase of innovation for AVs is electrification, and the freight industry is expected to be among the first to adopt electric AVs (E-AVs). E-AVs will offer benefits such as enhanced sustainability, improved safety and reduced costs. The report also demonstrates how E-AVs compound technological benefits by facilitating data collection to develop safer business models. 

Big Tech Invests in Cybersecurity

The top five tech companies are investing in cybersecurity to bolster their cloud dominance, according to a new report by CBInsights. The research firm found that Meta (formerly Facebook), Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Apple (MAGMA) invested over $2 trillion in cybersecurity companies last year.

The rise in investment comes as cybercrime and ransom attacks hit a record level in 2021. In the United States, ransomware caused government services in Maryland and Atlanta to shut down for days at a time. In the private sector, Guy Carpenter estimates that just 42% of private businesses invest in cyber products, putting the almost $21 trillion in intangible assets of the Fortune 500 at risk.

The rise in investment by MAGMA is a bid to lure users onto the cloud. AWS, owned by Amazon, Azure, owned by Microsoft, and Google Cloud Platform are the most popular cloud platforms and boast a myriad of cybersecurity features. Meta and Apple, meanwhile, are pivoting their platforms to be more privacy-focused given the mistrust of data management by the public and the increasing risk of apps becoming a vector for cyber crime.

2021’s Job Market Broke Records After the Losses of 2020

The 2021 labor market posted its biggest jobs gain in modern history, following the huge job losses of 2020, as lockdowns and restrictions were lifted throughout the United States. Following a year that uprooted the lives of many as companies struggled to stay afloat, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, an estimated 6.5 million jobs were gained in 2021, the most since 1939.

As the Omicron variant spreads throughout the world, however, economists warn that January and February job growth might be more muted. Furthermore, research shows that as many as 5 million members of the workforce might be sidelined as the highly contagious variant continues to spread. And, there is still a 3.6 million jobs deficit from the beginning of the pandemic.

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