Germany looks to Brazil for migrant care workers

Germany looks to Brazil for migrant care workers |

To fill gaps amid its current labour shortage, Germany intends to attract skilled migrants from Brazil to work in its care sector.

As the German population ages, an increasing number of people need old-age and medical care while growing numbers of care workers retire.

To fill the gap, Germany will implement a recruitment strategy “in countries where there are more young and well-trained people than the local labour market can absorb,“ German Labour Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD/S&D) told Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung on Saturday.

For this, Heil and Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) will travel to Brazil in June, with similar arrangements planned for Indonesia and Mexico, the labour minister said.

“We will be very sensitive about this so that we do not deprive any country of the workforce that it needs itself,” Heil said.

So far, most migrants in the German medical and care sector come from within Europe, which is increasingly being criticised as countries where these workers come from face labour shortages.

“We cannot finance the German health service”, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said in March, announcing the intention to keep doctors and nurses in the country. His complaints stem from the mass exodus of medical graduates who complete their studies locally with heavy state subsidies before working in Germany.

“We cannot accept that a medical student pays 1/16 of the cost of study with the government paying the rest…and then the student gets the diploma and goes to Germany or elsewhere,” Rama added.

Within Germany, Heil’s initiative was met with scepticism.

“It is already clear that 500,000 nursing professionals will retire in the next ten to twelve years,” Eugen Brysch, head of the patient association Stiftung Patientenschutz, told dpa. 

“This is not going to be solved by the few additional hundred Brazilian nurses,” he said.

So far, efforts by the German government to attract care workers outside of Europe have yielded limited success, with only 656 migrant care workers being recruited in 2022, according to dpa.

Instead, efforts should focus on improving working conditions, Brysch said. He added that 300,000 trained workers who had reduced their working hours or left the profession entirely could be mobilised to return.

(Jonathan Packroff |

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