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Why Germany could soon recruit Kita educators who speak 'no or little German'

The Local Germany
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Why Germany could soon recruit Kita educators who speak 'no or little German'
Children work on a drawing together in a Kita. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/Stiftung Haus der kleinen Forscher | Christoph Wehrer

In the face of extreme staff shortages at daycare centres (Kitas) around Germany, the FDP parliamentary group is calling to reduce the current language requirement to become a Kita educator.

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Shortened opening hours, unscheduled closing days, too large group sizes: These issues are often exacerbated by the shortage of Erzieher (educators) in Kitas (day-care centres) in Germany.

According to recent estimates by the Bertelsmann Foundation, there is a shortage of around 384,000 daycare places nationwide.

The Free Democratic (FDP) parliamentary group is now advocating the use of teachers who speak little or no German in day-care centres to counter the growing staff shortage. 

Their position paper, first made available to Berlin’s Tagesspiegel, is set to be adopted by the parliamentary group on Tuesday.

READ ALSO: The German industries most desperate for skilled workers

In recent years, many people with qualifications in the field of education have immigrated to Germany, the paper states. 

These qualifications should be recognised un-bureaucratically and "if possible within 60 days". Currently, an advanced, C1, level of German is required to be a teacher at most Kitas.

The draft proposal goes on to say that German language skills could then be acquired while working since it’s otherwise a “lengthy and complicated” process both to acquire them and have them officially recognised. 

How would this impact children in Kitas?

But would the plan impact how easily children learn German, especially if it’s not spoken at home? No, says the FDP. Rather they aim to place foreign educators in Kitas where children speak the same mother tongue at home - in addition to also ensuring that there are native German speakers on hand.

For example, a Croatian native speaker would be placed at a Kita where children also speak the language.

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Especially in neighbourhoods where many people with a migration history live, multilingual educators would be an advantage "to address educationally disadvantaged families and to reduce reservations about the care and education offered," the paper states.

Children play a colouring game at a German 'Sprach Kita'.

Children play a colouring game at a German Kita. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Jens Büttner

The FDP also proposed recruiting Kita teachers from abroad - in a similar fashion to how IT professionals are currently being targeted.

On the federal web portal "Make it in Germany", the shortage of educators is not explicitly advertised - and this needs to change, the FDP states.

For example, skilled workers from the Balkans - where there is high-quality training for educators - should be specifically recruited. The path into the profession should also be made easier for lateral entrants from related pedagogical fields within Germany, they state.

Making the field more desirable

Among several points, the FDP also called to pay all prospective Kita teachers an allowance in the midst of their mandatory Ausbildung (training). 

This training is required in order to receive a position as an Erzieher, and politicians and educators have long criticised the fees for it in light of staffing shortages. 

The FDP also advocated for better cooperation between educational colleges and Kitas, and for putting in place a nationwide campaign to recruit more male Erzieher since the bulk are currently women.

Growing shortage of Kita teachers

The shortage of staff in Kitas (day-care centres) is dramatic and is expected to remain so for years to come.

In a survey published by the German Kindergarten Directors' Congress in spring 2023, 64 percent of the Kita directors surveyed said they had been short-staffed more than 20 percent of the time last year.

This means that there were fewer staff than required by the guidelines, for example, for supervisory duties.

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Through the Kita Quality Act, the German government is pouring €4 billion into Kitas over the next couple of years. However, the states are not investing all of this money in improving quality, but in lower fees for parents. 

But the FDP sees an opportunity through Germany’s new Skilled Labour Immigration Law, passed by the Bundestag in June.

Depending on the calculation, there will be a shortage of between 70,000 and more than 100,000 skilled workers by 2030. 

But the new legislation hopes to clear bureaucratic hurdles to bringing in more qualified foreign workers - including, the FDP hope, more educators regardless of their current German levels.

READ ALSO: 8 things to know about Germany's new skilled worker immigration law

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Comments (1)

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Panshul Gupta 2023/07/03 18:22
This means more pressure on non german parents to make sure their kids learn proper German, else they do not get admission into the kindergartens. Me being an expat parent, I depend on the Kita to teach proper German to my kid which will make her ready for kindergarten, as I should not be teaching my kid German, if I cannot speak it perfectly. I appreciate the steps taken by the Govt. to make it easy to hire more teachers, but this change should be made further down the process as well.

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