Unemployment levels in Europe may well be starting to fall but the recovery in the jobs market will be "long and slow", the chief executive of HR company ManpowerGroup has told CNBC.
"For Europe as a whole, we can expect a long and slow process of recovering the jobs that we lost during the recession," Jonas Prising, told CNBC Thursday.
Showing that unemployment in the 18-country euro zone is slowly decreasing, the jobless rate in the region stood at 11.5 percent in November 2014, according to the latest figures available from Eurostat, unchanged from October but slightly down from 11.9 percent the previous year.
While the lower unemployment rates were recorded in Austria and Germany (4.9 percent and 5 percent, respectively) unemployment is stubbornly high in Greece, where a quarter of all adults are unemployed, and in Spain where the jobless rate is almost 24 percent. Among young people, the figures rise substantially – in Greece, for example, almost half of all people aged 15-24 are without work.
Speaking to CNBC on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, Prising said that the jobs recovery was uneven but that employers were generally optimistic about an economic recovery and hiring.
"When we talk to employers globally, you can clearly recognize that that the economic recovery is uneven. Some companies are affected and buffeted by different things but when we look at 38 out of 42 countries and we ask employers in those countries what their outlook is for 2015, they would indicate that it's stable to improving."
He conceded that the lack of wage inflation had "perplexed" employment agencies such as ManpowerGroup, as it hadn't followed even in improving labor markets like the U.S. and U.K.
Prising insisted that the global growth predictions – the World Bank forecasts 3 percent GDP growth in 2015 – would boost employment to a certain extent. "That should help us drive down unemployment further, although this isn't really strong enough to drive it down to levels we would like to see…(but) we are at the beginning of the recovery."
Some labor organizations would beg to differ that the employment outlook is as bright. According to a report published by the International Labour Organization (ILO) earlier this week, global unemployment is set to rise in the next five years and, in 2015 alone, unemployment is forecast to increase by 3 million.
The ILO warned that 280 million jobs would need to be created by 2019 to close what it termed the "global employment gap"— the number of jobs lost since the start of the financial crisis, once new labor market entrants were accounted for.
- By CNBC's Holly Ellyatt, follow her on Twitter @HollyEllyatt.