Saturday, August 15, 2020

The need for mobility of labour

Germany has a shortage of nurses and caregivers. Health Minister Jens Spahn has made an effort to ease the hiring of foreign workers, but the coronavirus pandemic brought this recruitment drive to a halt.

For years, Germany has reported a dearth of nurses and caregivers. According to German Health Minister Jens Spahn, some 50,000 positions need to be filled. And the German Nursing Council (DPR) predicts up to 300,000 vacant positions may have to be filled until 2030. In 2013, the federal employment agency launched a recruitment drive, encouraging foreign nurses and caregivers to relocate to Germany.

Minister Spahn wanted to lend new momentum to the initiative in 2019, when he traveled to Kosovo and then Mexico, hoping to strike a recruitment deal. After returning, Spahn created a special agency designed to ease immigration for foreign nurses and caregivers. 

Spahn's ministry, however, informed DW that currently all recruiting efforts have been "indefinitely" suspended due to the pandemic. Presently, 1,300 nurses from Mexico and the Philippines are waiting to have their applications processed.

Thomas Hesse, who heads Saarbr├╝cken hospital's HR department, is eager to hire more foreign staff. "We need to train up more people here, and hire staff from abroad." He is convinced this is the only way Germany will be able to tackle the staff shortage in its health care system. Last year, he teamed up with Homburg university hospital, the Carl Duisberg language centers, and Germany's employment agency to hire Mexican caregivers. Hesse says they are known to be highly trained. But because of the pandemic, they have remained at home, studying German.

Asklepios is Germany's second largest hospital company, operating about 160 hospitals, nursing homes and other institutions. The company hires international staff by tasking special recruiters. The group employs many Mexican and Filipino nurses. 

A mere4,000 nurses and caregivers from abroad have come to Germany since the country's employment agency launched its recruitment drive in 2013. Additional staff may have been hired through other agencies. Yet it is unlikely any more foreign nurses and caregivers will come to Germany this year, due to the pandemic.

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