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A carer and a resident of an aged care home seen in silhouette from back
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/O. Berg

Mexicans tapped to fix German nursing-care crisis

September 21, 2019

A shortage of qualified staff to work in German care homes has prompted a visit to Mexico by Health Minister Jens Spahn. A speedy visa process is one of the perks being offered to lure skilled workers.

https://p.dw.com/p/3Q0kv

German Health Minister Jens Spahn on Saturday appealed to Mexican care workers to consider moving to Germany to work.

Spahn traveled to Mexico City last week as part of a recruitment drive aimed at redressing a shortage of nursing and ancillary staff in German care homes.

In a video posted to Twitter, he said the trip was about "helping to speed up the process by which nurses from Mexico can come to Germany."

He said visa procedures and the recognition of professional qualifications would be accelerated for qualified Mexican staff.

Read more: Conflicts grow in German care sector as more foreign workers come

The minister also met with 15 representatives of local training institutes and invited them to visit Germany to familiarize themselves with the German care system and recruit Mexican workers.

Out of time: Elderly care in Germany

Sector shunned by workers

Germany's care sector is deeply unattractive for many domestic workers due to low wages, overwork and reports of mistreatment of staff and patients. The industry relies on thousands of foreign workers.

Read more: Nursing home abuse in Germany: 'I can't let my mother die of thirst'

Spahn said there were currently 50,000 to 80,000 vacancies in care homes and hospitals.

DW reported in January that the care sector was struggling to fill some 38,000 posts and that for every 100 vacant positions there were only 26 unemployed skilled workers on the market.

The German government has set a target to find 10% more trainees for the sector by 2023. Earlier this year, it tasked several ministries with addressing the shortage, prompting high-profile visits to countries such as Kosovo and the Philippines this summer.

Read more: Singapore 'maids for sale' ad sparks investigation

Aging population spurs action

Resolving the issue has become particularly urgent as the number of people who need care is expected to rise dramatically in the coming decades: from the 3.3 million in 2017 to 4 million by 2030, and 5.3 million by 2050, according to official government projections.

The shortage persists despite Germany's population growing by more than 2 million since 2015, mostly as a result of Europe's migrant crisis, which saw large numbers of people cross the Mediterranean to seek a new life in Europe's largest economy.

mm/jlw (AFP, dpa)

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