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: Recruitment of non-EU nurses must be fair to their countries of origin – Caritas

A new law (Skilled Worker Immigration Act or Fachkräfteeinwanderungsgesetz) that facilitates the recruitment of skilled workers from non-EU countries will enter into effect on 1 March. Germany is currently suffering from labour shortages in many sectors, including health care. Caritas has however warned that the needs of the countries where nurses would be recruited should be considered in the implementation of the new law.

Caritas is desperately looking for nursing professionals. But the Catholic charity rejects aggressive recruitment from abroad. “The recruitment of nursing staff from countries in which caregivers are also in need themselves or that have a demographic development similar to ours in Germany should be assessed very critically,” Caritas President Peter Neher has reportedly told the Evangelical Press Service.

But according to Neher, there are also non-EU countries in which these questions do not arise. Provided nurses are well trained and accompanied, recruiting from such countries is quite possible. “Such a migration can certainly help to alleviate the need for caregivers in our country.”

The Caritas president, for example, refers to the Philippines. Quite a number people train as nurses so that they can come to Europe to work. That’s their life’s plan. “I don’t see why we should prohibit them from doing that or why we should not transfer such models to other populous countries.”

In all recruitment efforts, strict attention must be paid to the fact that the departure of qualified young people do not open up gaps in the country of origin.

“And I’m not just talking about the job market, but also about families and communities.” Because the women who leave are also daughters, wives, mothers and neighbours, Neher said. “We should care as our interests and concerns and those of migrants and their countries of origin are legitimate.”

Neher warned against the illusion that as many nurses could be recruited abroad to fill shortages in Germany. Immigration should not be used “to excuse the need to act and to reform – especially when it comes to financing nursing care”, he said. It remains an important task for politicians to improve the framework conditions in such a way that as many as possible remain in the nursing profession and also for those who had left to return, he added.

The Skilled Worker Immigration Act, which comes into force on 1 March 2020, expands the framework for the immigration of qualified specialists from countries outside the EU to Germany. Specialists with professional, non-academic training should in future be able to migrate more easily to Germany for work purposes.

Vivian Asamoah


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