Jens Spahn on a mission: Germany’s international strategy of nursing recruitment

Jens Spahn on a mission: Germany’s international strategy of nursing recruitment

ausländische Pflegekräfte finden
The German government recruits foreign nurses worldwide, especially from non-EU Europe, Asia and Latin America.

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For a variety of reasons (e.g. nursing shortage, demographic change, etc.), Germany is in great need of further nursing staff in order to keep the health and nursing system at the current quality level. In addition to the strategy of rendering the nursing job more attractive in the future through better working conditions and better pay, the Federal Government is aiming for nursing recruitment worldwide. Since there are a large number of countries around the world which, like Germany itself, are confronted with a shortage of nursing staff, the German federal government adheres to the Code of Conduct of the World Health Organization (WHO) when actively recruiting foreign nursing staff. This code of conduct states that the migration of health care workers is beneficial for both the countries of origin and the host countries.

The Federal Government’s focus when recruiting foreign nursing staff is on non-EU Europe, Asia, Latin and South America. Jens Spahn travelled to these regions in order to initiate the process of nursing recruitment abroad. The German Ministry of Health kicked off the process in Kosovo, followed by visits to the Philippines and Mexico. Now nursing homes, clinics and private agents are called upon to use the momentum and to put the recruitment of foreign nursing staff into practice.


Nurses are recruited in Kosovo, the Philippines and Mexico – Jens Spahn does not give up

nursing recruitment


Jens Spahn, as Federal Minister of Health in Germany, initiates the process of nursing recruitment in the Philippines, Kosovo and also in Mexico so that German nursing homes and clinics can compensate for the shortage of nursing staff.

During his first stop of the international “advertising tour” in Kosovo, Jens Spahn visited a German nursing school in Pristina. There, the nursing students learn German during their training. Spahn met very motivated young graduates and sought direct contact with them. In the process, the subject of problems with the recognition of vocational training or qualifications came up time and again. Jens Spahn promised to remedy this in future and to simplify and accelerate the recognition procedures.

Spahn was now represented in the Philippines by his parliamentary secretary of state, Sabine Weiss. “As with Kosovo, we also want to work well with the Philippines to attract more nursing staff to Germany. This cooperation should help both sides. Us, because it will help us find answers to the shortage of skilled nursing staff. But also the Philippines, because it will enable them to offer their young generation more attractive work and training opportunities. In the “Concerted Action Nursing”, we have set ourselves the goal of making it easier to recruit nursing staff from abroad. My talks here in Manila serve precisely this purpose.” Jens Spahn travelled to Mexico for his third stop, in order to make the nursing care crisis in Germany clear on the spot. The Federal Minister of Health gave a speech to Mexican health and nursing experts to promote Germany’s nursing recruitment strategy. This speech seemed much more like a job interview. The goal was quickly apparent: Germany has to do a lot of persuading abroad for its strategy of recruiting abroad.


What advantages do the countries of origin have through cooperation with Germany?

Both the countries of origin and Germany benefit from this constructive cooperation.

The aim of cooperation with Kosovo, for example, is to establish a functioning health insurance system in the country of origin. At the same time, nursing training is to be adapted, so that the recognition of qualifications can take place quickly without lengthy examination processes.

Cooperation with Germany also makes sense for Mexico and the Philippines. This cooperation is not about stealing skilled workers from another country. Rather, it is about offering young, well-trained skilled workers a perspective and further training opportunities. After all, the population in all three countries of origin is comparatively young and youth unemployment is comparatively high. These countries also have a surplus of skilled workers in the nursing sector. 

On the other hand, this situation in the countries of origin makes it possible for the Ministry of Health to recruit foreign nursing staff to the German market and helps to counteract the nursing shortage or lack of skilled workers.


Too many carers in Kosovo, the Philippines and Mexico without work

Due to the very high youth unemployment in Kosovo, it is often difficult for graduates of the nursing school to get a direct career start. Due to the good German level of the young nursing staff and the lack of nursing staff in the DACH region, the idea of looking for a nursing job in the German-speaking area is obvious to many young nursing staff.

Of course, skilled nursing staff are also needed in Kosovo, the Philippines and Mexico. However, more are being trained than can be hired in the end. One reason for this is the tight budgets in the health systems abroad, which leads to a correspondingly small number of hospitals and thus only a small number of jobs to be allocated in these countries. This is the reason why Germany is proving to be a good option for nursing staff from these countries. For many professionals, this provides a perfect opportunity to find employment in the job of their choice.


Nursing recruitment: Good working conditions come first

overseas nursing jobs


The aim is by no means to recruit cheap labour from abroad. German labour law does not distinguish between German employees and foreign employees. In Germany the right to equal treatment is indispensable and a basic right for every employee.

Foreign health care professionals receive the same working conditions and wages as German employees. The aim is to promote long-term employment relationships and to enable the integration of foreign care workers in the workplace and in society.

In a global comparison, the working conditions in Germany for health care professionals are above average and the health care system is one of the best in the world. There is a legal entitlement to further training, vacation and a maximum weekly working time.


Jens Spahn continues with the recruitment of nurses

In the coming months further trips to the regions by Jens Spahn or by the Ministry of Health are planned. Due to the Corona crisis these trips have been somewhat postponed. We will keep you informed about the experiences and reports regarding nursing recruitment.