Germany’s nursing sector is suffering an acute skills shortage, due in part to the ageing population. At the same time, there are not enough jobs for qualified nurses abroad, especially in countries outside the European Union. The German Federal Employment Agency’s International Placement Services (ZAV) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH have set up a joint project to bring well-qualified nurses to Germany from Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Philippines and Tunisia.
This has advantages for all three sides. Nurses are able to live and work in Germany under fair conditions. At the same time, unemployment is reduced in their countries of origin, and these countries benefit from migrants’ financial remittances. In Germany, meanwhile, hospitals and care facilities are able to fill their vacancies with qualified staff.
The project is only working with countries that have a surplus of well-qualified nurses. It also involves the partner countries’ employment agencies in the recruitment process. These agencies provide information to nurses who are interested in the scheme and put them in touch with the project. Jobs are advertised in the countries of origin around twice a year. Once the nurses have submitted their applications, ZAV carries out selection interviews with applicants in their home countries. Here, questions focus on their training and professional experience as well as their personal motivation and suitability. German skills also play an important role.
At the next stage, selected applicants are introduced to interested employers. Interviews are conducted in the home country, by Skype or over the telephone. This enables both parties to gain a personal impression of each other. If the interview is successful, an employment contract is drawn up.
GIZ’s support for the applicants accepted onto the project focuses on preparing for living and working in Germany. This includes language courses up to advanced level and a four-day nursing course. The federal enterprise also helps nurses to get their qualifications from their home country recognised in Germany. Upon arrival in Germany, it helps the nurses to integrate into their new home and complete the necessary administrative procedures. Staff at the hospitals and facilities prepare for the arrival of their new colleagues by attending an integration workshop. During the first year both the employers and the nurses can call a telephone hotline if they have any problems.
This joint initiative of ZAV and GIZ has attracted a lot of interest. Since the project started in 2013, more than 4,000 nurses have been recruited and above 2,700 have started work already. About 290 facilities have made use of the placement scheme. After seven years, the programme is now well established and has gained recognition also at international level. It has been commended as best practice by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the International Trade Union Confederation (PSI).
The nurses themselves also recognise the benefits of the project – in spite of the initial challenges of learning German or getting their qualifications and training recognised. They feel well integrated and have grown both professionally and personally. Many of them have already completed advanced training, laying the foundations for a successful future in Germany.
Last update: January 2021