Germany is undergoing far-reaching demographic change. As people live ever longer lives and the proportion of older people in our society increases, there is a wider need for inpatient and outpatient care services. As a consequence, hospitals, nursing homes and other care providers are finding it harder and harder to recruit and retain skilled nursing professionals. Recruiting skilled healthcare and nursing staff is therefore a key challenge for Germany.
Working in nursing
Nurses and geriatric nurses are responsible for monitoring, providing advice to and caring for patients, whether in hospitals, care homes or at the patients’ own homes. Depending on their specialisation and qualifications, some nursing professionals may also be responsible for documenting and evaluating care procedures, following doctors’ orders and assisting doctors in their work. Talking to patients’ families forms another important part of the work of the nursing profession. In light of demographic change, the demand for skilled geriatric nurses is rapidly increasing. It is expected that by 2050, more than twice as many people as today will be in need of care. This means that securing an adequate number of skilled nursing professionals is an important challenge for Germany. In order to meet this challenge, a number of different strategies have been devised.
Good job opportunities for nursing professionals from abroad
In Germany, anyone wishing to work in nursing requires a licence. In order for your professional qualifications to be recognised, you often need to take an adaptation course to bring your language and professional skills in line with the requirements. Applications for the recognition of professional qualifications need to be submitted to the responsible authority in the German state in which you intend to work. If your application is granted, you are entitled to work across the whole country, irrespective of the German state in which your application has been granted. In order for your application to be successful, the following requirements need to be met:
- You need to have your qualifications recognised in Germany: If you have obtained your nursing qualifications abroad, you need to have these recognised in Germany. The responsible authority will verify whether or not the professional qualifications which you have acquired abroad are fully equivalent to the corresponding qualification issued in Germany. If this is not the case, you can sign up for an adaptation course.
- You need to speak German well enough: Depending on the German state in which you intend to work, you need to prove you have a B1 or B2 German proficiency level according to the European Framework of Reference.
- You need to be in good health: You need to present a certificate issued by a German doctor stating that you are physically and mentally fit and able to work in nursing care.
- You need to be trustworthy: In order to prove that you are trustworthy, you need to provide a certificate of good conduct. Depending on your situation, either a certificate of good conduct issued in Germany or issued in your home country will be necessary.
In the recognition procedure, more emphasis is placed on where you obtained your qualification than on which nationality you have:
Professional qualifications acquired in an EU country: If you acquired your nursing qualifications in a country which is a member of the EU or the European Economic Area, your professional qualifications will usually be recognised automatically. However, anyone wishing to work as a nurse in Germany needs to speak the language. You need to prove that your level of German is sufficient for practising your chosen occupation. This usually corresponds to a B1 or B2 German proficiency level.
Professional qualifications acquired outside the EU: Before you apply for a visa, you need to find out what career paths your professional qualifications will allow you to take in Germany. You need to apply for the recognition of the foreign professional qualifications which you acquired abroad. The recognition procedure may lead to:
- Full recognition of your professional qualifications: This means that your qualifications have been found to be fully equivalent to the corresponding German qualification and that you have also met all of the other requirements (for example language skills). Once you have obtained a valid job offer, you can apply for a work visa for qualified professionals from the German mission located in your home country. More information about this can be found in the visa section. Once you are on German soil, you need to apply for a residence permit issued by the immigration office. Please note that in Germany, nursing is a vocational training qualification, and not, like in many other countries, a university course. Consequently, the EU Blue Card does not apply to nurses seeking to work in Germany.
- Partial recognition of your professional qualifications: If the authority reviewing your application finds that your level of theoretical and practical skills is not sufficient for your qualifications to be fully recognised, you can opt to take an adaptation course in Germany which will bring your qualifications in line with the requirements. If certain criteria are met, you may be granted a visa for the recognition of foreign qualifications. This visa gives you 18 months to acquire the missing qualifications by undergoing further training. The training courses you take must be relevant for the recognition of your professional qualifications. This includes adaptation courses, preparatory courses for examinations, language courses or further in-house training at a company. You are allowed to work part-time and earn money as an auxiliary nurse whilst undergoing adaptation training in Germany. Once you have been granted full recognition, your residence permit may be extended for up to one year, giving you time to find employment as a nursing professional. Detailed information about how you can apply for a visa can be found in the visa section.
For more information about recognition, examinations, adaptation courses and the German authorities responsible for these matters, please go to www.anerkennung-in-deutschland.de.
Initiatives / agreements with other countries
Triple Win project
The Triple Win project focuses on both labour market and development policy goals. It also delivers on the promise of establishing a culture that welcomes workers from abroad and recognises their qualifications and skills. The Federal Employment Agency has joined with the German Corporation for International Cooperation GIZ to conduct the Triple Win pilot project. The goal of this project is to recruit nursing professionals from abroad to work in Germany. The project is based on agreements which have been made between the Federal Employment Agency and the employment agencies of the partner countries, namely Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, the Philippines and Tunisia. The employment agencies of the partner countries are responsible for organising the application procedure in their country. They also check the applications for a number of formal criteria. The Federal Employment Agency then organises interviews in which it assesses the personal qualifications, nursing skills and language proficiency of the applicants. Candidates also need to pass a language test as part of the selection procedure. GIZ helps nursing professionals acquire the necessary language skills (level B1 according to the European Framework of Reference including the technical language of nursing care), prepares them for working life in Germany and also offers integration courses and supports nursing professionals as they apply to have their professional qualifications recognised in Germany. Up until their professional qualifications have been recognised, the nursing care professionals work as auxiliary nurses. They are required to obtain recognition of their professional qualifications within the first year of their stay in Germany. Nursing professionals can work in hospitals, outpatient care, and elderly care, but, irrespective of the field in which they work, they are required to undergo the recognition procedure for nursing.
Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi)
Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ)