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Foreign health workers who have just passed their accreditation process in Germany. People working in care professions are among those that Germany is hoping to attract with the new law/ Photo: © mibeg-Institut Medizin

Germany inaugurates new agency to recruit nurses from abroad

Germany urgently needs skilled workers for the health care sector. Recruitment from abroad has been slow. A newly-established specialist agency should speed up the recruitment process.

A newly-established specialist agency should accelerate the placement of nurses from abroad in Germany’s care and nursing facilities. Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn and Saarland’s Premier Tobias Hans (both members of the CDU) inaugurated the Deutsche Fachkräfteagentur für Gesundheits- und Pflegeberufe (German specialist agency for health and care professions or DeFa) on Monday in Berlin.

Recruitment procedures, which currently take more than two years, should be completed within six months with the help of the agency, which is based in the Saarland capital of Saarbrücken, Hans said.

DeFa started work already on 4 October and there are already 4,200 applications for the placement of nurses it’s processing.

All health care institutions can contact DeFa if they want to recruit foreign nurses or if they need help with the bureaucratic processes. The agency takes care of the visa applications, recognition of professional qualifications and residence and work permits.

Minister Spahn emphasized that the need for care workers in Germany will continue to rise sharply. The number of people receiving long-term assistance from care insurance has increased from 3 to 4.1 million over the past three years, he said.

The need for nurses cannot be met by training, retraining and improving working conditions in Germany alone, Spahn explained. For some time now, the federal government has specifically been promoting recruitment of nursing staff from abroad, including in Mexico and the Philippines.

Spahn and Hans emphasized that nurses would only be recruited from those countries where the population is young and nurses are trained in numbers that exceed their need. According to Spahn, around 2,000 nurses from the Philippines have recently come to Germany.

Overall, the recruitment of foreign nurses has been slow. According to figures from the Federal Employment Agency, 62,500 foreign nurses and carers work in German nursing homes and hospitals (as of March 2019). That’s just over six percent of all nurses.

According to the information of the federal government, there were already around 25,000 vacancies in care facilities and nursing homes nationwide as of April 2018 in addition to another 10,000 assistants needed to fill vacancies. Minister Spahn explained that the federal government would make available 4.7 million euros for the agency, which will have 15 to 20 employees, over the next four years.

Sola Jolaoso

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