Training nurses from Viet Nam to become geriatric nurses in Germany

Project description

Title: Training nurses from Viet Nam to become geriatric nurses in Germany
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy (BMWi)
Country: Viet Nam
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA)
Overall term: 2012 to 2016


Germany is facing an alarming shortage of qualified nurses in the geriatric care sector. Experts estimate that, due to demographic change, the number of people requiring care in Germany will increase from the current level of about 2.3 million to approximately 3.4 million in 2030. Charitable organisations and the Federal Employment Agency (BA) have already observed a severe shortage of fully qualified geriatric nurses and are warning of an impending acute shortage of nursing staff. Without fundamental changes to the recruitment policies, some 500,000 nursing positions will go unfilled.

A new study by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy (BMWi) states that, due to demographic changes, this shortage cannot be covered in the medium or long term by nurses in Germany itself. The present potential for workers from the southern and eastern European Union (EU) Member States will also be exhausted soon as a result of similar demographic developments. In the medium term this means there will be no alternative but to recruit nurses from countries outside Europe. It is therefore important to recruit young people from emerging markets and developing countries to undergo training as geriatric nurses in Germany.

In accordance with the Employment Ordinance, graduates of recognised vocational training programmes completed in Germany for a state-certified or similarly regulated occupation may be granted a residence permit upon completion of their training.

If an accelerated training course for foreign trainees can be established, the period from the arrival of trainees in Germany until their entry into full and appropriate employment would hardly take longer than the process of recognising foreign certificates. However, a precondition would be that the nurses have already completed previous training and gained work experience in their countries of origin.


The opportunities and possibilities for training young people from emerging markets and developing countries to become nurses in Germany have been explored and piloted.


As part of a pilot project initiated in the second half of 2013, a group of 100 young people from Viet Nam are training to be care assistants for the elderly. After completing a state-funded six-month language course at the Goethe-Institut in Hanoi, the participants receive training in small groups at care homes in Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Berlin and Lower Saxony. During this training period, they also take part in additional language courses and intercultural programmes to help them adjust to their new lives. Regional coordinators working in the same field and mentors who speak Vietnamese support the trainees and their partner organisations in getting to grips with the job and the theory.

This successful BMWi pilot project is set to continue, with a second batch of around 100 young people from Viet Nam starting their training in Germany from August 2015. The language training programme will begin in August 2014. The future trainees will complete a one-year intensive German language course to bring them up to level B2. In addition to learning German, the course also includes a module on specialist terminology and an intercultural programme to prepare the participants for working in a country so far away from home.

Many young people are keen to take up training and a subsequent period of work spent in Germany. Viet Nam has a very young population and falls far short of employing its entire potential workforce in its labour market.

This new approach uses existing labour relations with Vietnamese administrations, such as the Vietnamese Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA), and takes local trends into account. Furthermore, it creates attractive openings for investment and cooperation for German businesses.

GIZ is implementing the pilot project on behalf of BMWi and in cooperation with the BA’s International Placement Services (ZAV). The findings of the scientifically supported pilot project are to serve as a model for recruiting foreign qualified professionals for the nursing sector in Germany.

The 200 young Vietnamese participants in the pilot project will be selected in close cooperation with MoLISA and with ZAV. The primary prerequisite for applicants to the accelerated training programme in Germany is a degree as College Nurse (3 years) or a university degree as Bachelor Nurse (4 years).

Additional information