The insurance industry must take immediate action to address graduates' perception of the insurance industry, a leading insurance recruitment firm has warned.

Barbara Schönhofer, EJS Partners managing director, said: "Young graduates, in particular, have a complete misconception about insurance and what it is about. Who is out there doing something about that?"

Although Schönhofer admitted that some companies were putting measures in place such as talent development programmes, she said there was "no time to hang around" and action had to be taken now.

Last week, Mazars' annual survey of insurance brokers revealed that graduates were not moving into insurance "in any significant way", further underlining fears of a future skills shortage.

Nearly 70% of respondents said they failed to employ any new graduates last year, with 26% recruiting fewer than five graduates.

Commoditisation and over-regulation were blamed for difficulties in attracting "good" talent to the industry.

Mark Grice, head of broking at Mazars, said the findings had long term implications for the industry about where new talent was going to be found.

He said: "Brokers are carefully guarding and nurturing key talent, but it is also critical that insurance broking is seen to offer an attractive career path for new blood."

The CII is currently leading an initiative to address the skills crisis in the insurance industry. Last month, Insurance Times revealed plans to create a web-based insurance "careers centre" to encourage students to enter insurance.