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Germany looking to China for nursing power

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Germany looking to China for nursing power
Photo: DPA
08:18 CEST+02:00
Germany is so desperate to find people to care for its elderly, it is launching a campaign to recruit 150 health care assistants from China.

The workers must have the necessary professional qualifications and "the will to learn the German language," Monika Varnhagen , the head of the Labour Office's international placement agency, told Thursday's Der Spiegel magazine.

Varnhagen said the healthcare workers would be given a course on German culture and language before leaving China, and that their training would continue on arrival.

The agency is eager to avoid making the same mistakes they did with migrant workers in the 1960s, many of whom came from Turkey and never became well integrated.

Nurses are in short supply in Germany. The Labour Office recently reported there were more than 14,000 vacancies in the field - and the actual number is likely to be much higher, as many companies conduct their own searches without notifying the employment agencies, Der Spiegel said.

And with Germany's population ageing and the birth-rate declining, the demand for qualified nurses is not likely to diminish in the near future.

The agency had high hopes for an influx of qualified workers from eastern Europe after the last barriers for employment in Germany were lifted in May 2011.

Others had hoped the crisis-hit economies in Spain and Greece might motivate workers there to seek jobs in Germany, but in the end only a few hundred healthcare workers came to Germany, Spiegel said.

The agency expects its campaign to attract Chinese workers to be more successful, since wages there are comparatively low.

"China is home to many young people who want to seek their fortune abroad and are willing to invest a lot," Varnhagen said.

Plans are already in the works to expand the project to other Asian countries.

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