Care Worker Shortage in Germany Nurse Recruitment Agencies

Care Worker in demand in germany Germany has an alarming shortage of care and nursing staff with the deserted job market medical institutions 

Germany has an alarming shortage of care and nursing staff with the deserted job market medical institutions are increasingly recruiting staff from abroad, we can't manage without international care workers.

 a large number of clinics engage private recruitment agencies to hire trained medical staff worldwide, it's a lucrative business….

 Anyone can set up a recruitment agency the market is still completely unregulated how does the recruitment business work through our research we came across cases of successful integration, but we also met distraught nurses who can't even get to germany they've signed dubious contracts lured by great promises.

Profit on the backs of people from poor countries what is going wrong with the recruitment of foreign care workers, the university hospital of essen a normal day on the wards as in all german hospitals the staff are under a lot of pressure, one building along five new nurses are being greeted by zil calanga from international applications management.

 The nurses all come from serbia and should join the team right away, i hope i pronounced it correctly a warm welcome to you all here the previous months have been exhausting learning german getting their documents verified bidding their farewells.

 i have come here because i want a better place to live they've all taken the first step from now on they'll be working in a german hospital and looking after patients in a foreign language, 30 year old maria from serbia is starting on the neurology award today this is vanessa she's your mentor she will accompany you in your first weeks and show you how everything works on the ward, starting today vanessa roda will be her go-to person to help her get acquainted, it's important as she'll have a lot to process.

Around 3 000 nurses work in the university hospital of essen, 46 of them were recruited from abroad almost 70 more are expected this year i meet the head of nursing andrea schmidt she explains to me why foreign nurses are so urgently needed.

 Why did you take the step of recruiting nursing staff from abroad deutschland the german population is aging this is known nationwide and one of the cornerstones of recruiting staff is to hire international nurses we also train our own staff and strengthen that part but we can't manage without international care workers all across germany the search for nursing staff is a huge problem in 2021 alone there were thirty six thousand vacancies which is why federal health minister jens schpan supports the recruitment of nursing staff from abroad.

 The need is so great that we couldn't manage without qualified staff from abroad, the number of foreign care workers has increased dramatically in recent years in 2013 around 74 000 nursing staff were non-german nationals in 2020 it was almost three times as many at 208,000 more than half of them come from non-eu countries such as bosnia, serbia and the Philippines, but also from latin America.
The recruitment is mostly done by private agencies, it varies from agency to agency the costs are between 9 000 and 21 000 euros depending what services are on offer such as helping them move house or getting their papers in order, it ranges greatly stuck.

 But the recruitment agency market is not easy to figure out…. there seem to be hundreds of recruitment agencies, i think there are far too many and it's very confusing we are contacted by several agencies per week, all of them offer something different and there is no uniform standard.

 Sometimes you have the feeling they are only after profit, on the internet i do some research on recruitment agencies for the german nursing market there seems to be an endless offer the promises are huge a great salary and a lot of annual holiday for the care workers conditions that no german would associate with the nursing profession.

 The Manager contact an agency pretending to be a mexican nurse hi how can i come and work as a nurse in germany hello are you a qualified nurse yes but i have no job at the moment don't worry there is work for you in germany we can organize it within 10 months. when i ask how much i will earn i get no answer but i'm told they are great employers honestly you will really like.
Care Worker in demand in germany

 it but things don't always go the way the agencies promise in cologne i meet a german teacher marie esch she introduces me to one of her students the young woman comes from sao paulo in brazil after the interview she asks us to hide her face, as she's afraid of any reprisals.

 this is Caroline…. the brazilian woman met her teacher when she was looking for help learning german without her support the young woman would probably now be back in brazil instead of a better future she has experienced a personal nightmare, the promise was that i could come to germany and work here in a field where i had already worked in brazil and where i had the right kind of experience they said they would help me with a whole integration with the hospital and with any bureaucratic problems.
Care Worker in demand in germany

But once she got to germany angelica was not placed in her field nor in the clinic that was mentioned in the job interview she also had language deficits as she didn't learn the medical vocabulary needed for her job in the language course offered by the agency, she shows me her contract.
Care Worker in demand in germany

The Manager Ask Her….. did you know what you were getting yourself into when you signed the contract ? Angelica Say i had no idea how the health care system works in germany nor how the agency would handle the matter to what was promised there is nobody to show her the ropes in the clinic in germany break times and holidays were not honored alongside a full-time job there is the pressure of learning german, a young woman fell into a serious depression and left the clinic but then she had a rude awakening.

the agency demanded money from her according to her contract the brazilian was meant to stay with the same employer for at least 36 months.
 yes almost 5 000 euro, you are strong what does this contract mean for you it's a prison because i have to work in a place where i'm not happy and i can't quit because then i'd have to pay a fine, she feels that instead of having a better life she's worse off than before is this one case the exception.
Care Worker in demand in germany

 i do some research and more nurses contact me with similar recruitment contracts in all the ones i see there are commitment clauses and fines to be paid many of these clauses are not legally valid, is there a method behind such contracts in dortmund there is an advice center called fair integration where foreign nurses can get help.

 i speak to the advisor christiana tenbenzel to what extent are these individual cases….
Care Worker careers in germany

 Christiana Say i think that every case is different but you can't really say they're isolated incidents they all occur in connection with recruitment organizations not with state-run organizations for example, the problem is really that these recruitment agencies are not regulated.

 Anyone can set up a recruitment agency and there are many dubious agencies on the market i show her the recruitment contracts from my research the content is sometimes contradictory it says that recruitment is free for the candidates as is the language course but a few paragraphs later it states after successful participation and starting work the contract is free for the candidates.

Christiana Say i don't think these contracts have been drawn up by professionals, i also think they are deliberately vague they imply that they help and support the people they are recruiting but in reality they don't actually do that, this is her personal evaluation in the worst case instead of offering support the recruiters demand money from the nurses, how high are the debts once ?

 there was a sum of 23 000 euros that's a lot of money people probably could never pay that off in a lifetime, even if the contracts barely stand a chance in court very few people stand up to them, many of those affected get into debt before they even make it to Germany.
Care Worker Careers in germany

 Sao paulo brazil's largest city this is where gianni begeto the 39 year old was due to start work as a nurse in germany in march in early 2020 she signed a contract with a recruitment agency and shortly afterwards got a job contract with a german hospital.
Care Worker Careers in germany

 due to the pandemic i speak with gianni via video… sited with the recruitment agency's online german course in may 2020 it was the first time she'd learned a foreign language….. Gianni Say when we started with the german course they told us that we had to concentrate 100 on the language course and that we should give up our jobs.
 so you quit your job ? Gianni Say…..not just me my colleagues did the same gianna felt secure with the contract she'd already signed with a german clinic and gave up her job as a nurse in sao paulo to concentrate completely on learning german.

 She wanted a better life for herself and her five children, Goanni Say…… i bought the plane tickets insurance, everything because they told us we should the agency said that we should pay for it from our own money or that they would lend us the sum and we could pay it back afterwards.

 Can you tell us roughly how much you've already invested in your dream of working and living in germany ? Almost one thousand two hundred euro that's almost two months salary for gianni ……

Giani…at the beginning of march we had our german tests and everything was very rushed i passed in reading, writing, and listening. but i was missing a few points in the speaking part, so i repeated the test and they told me i had failed again.

 After gianni failed the test twice she lost her place in the program although there's nothing in the contract about how often she can repeat the test she was supposed to pay up several thousand euros.

 How much money is the agency demanding from you ?
Giani…..their secretary asked me to come to an appointment she said that in the contract it states that i have to pay 3700 euros… 

Since she left her job she's found no further position as a nurse, then another brazilian nurse gets in touch with me. Patricia cavallo from rio de janeiro she was supposed to come to germany with the same agency as giane but she hasn't made it here either.

Patricia, what did i do i sold my flat and straight after i had done that in the same week the boss of the course took me out of the program even though i had a job contract and had already paid for my flight.
Care Worker Careers in germany

 Patricia gave up her whole life to come to germany now she's without a job and without a home and has to take care of herself and her 13 year old son, i hope that no one else falls into the trap that i fell into it's not good for anyone i wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.

 What does the agency say about these allegations the nurses were promised a free german course and free recruitment in a german hospital, now they have to cough up several thousand euros how can that be possible.
 i make my way to Durham in north reinvest failure to the agency's headquarters, they even have an award as an innovative startup, before the visit i checked the company's website again of the seven staff whose pictures can be seen here two alone are responsible for integration.
Care Worker Careers in germany

 but after some brief research i find out that these are stock photos purchased on the internet, i want to find out more and meet nina baumann of paseo. on  website She say that you work in accordance with international standards to ensure an ethically correct working practice and fair treatment of applicants, that means that the whole recruitment and hiring process has to be transparent for applicants at all times they don't have to pay anything and can change their job any time.
Care Worker Careers in germany

 in my research i came across a few cases and wanted to show you something i show ms bauman patrizia and gianni's cases, what did i do i sold my flat i bought a plane ticket insurance and everything. 
Nina Say, okay i know who that is this nurse comes from brazil and has been learning german for free  and for 11 month, i don't know why maybe personal reasons but she hasn't made any progress and the flight she bought she really just did that herself and booked it without any reason.

  Gianni took too long to learn german….
Nina, in the contract it doesn't say anything about a timeline yes from a1 to b1 can you show it to me she knows that it's not in the contract but it's in our information emails and we point this out at our information events, these women have given up everything for the dream of coming to germany they have quit their jobs sold their homes because they thought they would get a secure and well-paid job through your agency.

 Now they are in debt have invested money no longer have a job and should even pay a fine of up to 3 700 euro for what are you demanding this ?

Nina, fine the contractual penalty is only based on the fact that when the applicants do a language course and they come to Germany, this whole program is free for them but we are financed by the clinics, so we are financed by the clinic or the care institute which means that our services are paid by them.

 We have to fill the vacancies in the clinic have to completely pay for all the services we have rendered and with 11 months of language course that is a lot, we have to pay for these services ourselves so the recruitment contract partly covers us against that.

 So that means you cover yourselves with this contractual penalty for the nurses ?
Nina, during the program we cover yourselves financially that we cover our costs maybe gives the wrong impression but we invoice those costs our program is totally free.

 but if someone but ms baumann that's not correct the program isn't free how could i have several people here who have debts who have invested a lot and who now have to pay a fine?

Nina, if they have accumulated debts in the meantime then i have to say honestly i'm sorry about that….. but still it's your responsibility to ensure the quality of the language courses.

Nina,  quite honestly ms henschel you will find dissatisfied customers at any business of our pupils after three years 93.7% of the nurses are still here, so we can't have done everything wrong here when it comes to integration but what about their integration staff.

We have the impression that the agency is making the applicants bear their business risk, if they don't make it to germany in time they're threatened with paying the costs but what role do the agencies clients play do the clinics who finance the recruitment agency's business, know about the fines threatening the nurses we ask of the asclepius group where gianni and patrizia were supposed to start working from march.

 we are assumed that no one knew about these procedures,the clinic utterly condemns this practice the esclepius clinics in bad welding and will therefore ensure that the women concerned suffer no material damage, the clinic says the agency had assured them the nurses would not be pursued with demands for payment, the clinic also said they would terminate their contract with the agency.
Care Worker Careers in germany

 thanks to our research gianni and patrizia don't have to pay a fine to pursue, but they don't get their jobs back all the money they've already invested, 
More and more nurses get in touch with me also from other agencies sebastiana aires de freitas is the only one prepared to speak to me openly she believes she has nothing left to lose in any case, she too was apparently lured with great promises of a better life in Germany.
Care Worker Careers in germany

 Sebastiana, was a fabulous offer they promised me a job with a great salary especially by brazilian standards, in october 2021 she signed a contract with a recruitment agency from then on it was the beginning of hell for me because sorry it's hard for me to talk about it……

 sebastiana too tells us that she gave everything up she moved to sao paulo to attend the agency's language course, in the end she couldn't even pay her living costs so broke off the course and now she owes a lost of money, they want five thousand euros…

 can you pay it no way i don't even have a job how should i pay it in sebastiana's case there are two cooperating agencies a brazilian one and a german one, we confront both of them with the case and ask for a statement, the brazilian agency answers as the contract was signed voluntarily by all contract parties with knowledge of the content i see no violation of ethical or fair standards in the recruitment process.
Care Worker Careers in germany

 in berlin i have an appointment with the director of the care employers association isabel hulitz, she also confirms that something is wrong with the recruitment market.
Care Worker Careers in germany

 with her federal working group foreign care workers she has been campaigning for years for more transparency and quality in the recruitment business.

Isabel, i truly believe it's almost a form of modern slavery because they're making a profit from the staff shortages we have in healthcare institutions in germany and luring staff from poorer countries with false promises, why are there so many dubious agencies?
Care Worker Careers in germany

Isabel, the difficulty is simply that we have no legal regulations governing who can do this kind of work in germany and often we have recruitment agencies that are not based in germany, we're missing a central register where you can find out who is active in the business and there are currently as i said no general conditions that determine which ones are the serious agencies.

 it doesn't use a family at least there is a state-run program for the recruitment of foreign nursing staff which manages without private agencies called triple win, since 2013 the federal employment agency has worked together with the german society for international cooperation and has brought 4425 care workers to Germany, but with 36 000 vacancies this is still too few hence the federal minister for health, Jens Spahn is encouraging recruitment via private Agencies.
Care Worker Careers in germany

 in 2020 he traveled to mexico to court applicants for the german health system, Jens Spahn, it's about making things easier for recruitment agencies faster visa application processes faster recognition in germany of foreign qualifications.

 to speed up these processes for agencies defer the german agency for qualified health and care workers was set up the aim is to bundle all the bureaucratic processes surrounding recruitment, by founding this agency the german agency for qualified health and care workers we have really reached a development milestone.

 but the development milestone has not been very successful so far, when we ask the defer tell us that they have completed around 40 cases since the start of 2020. few agencies seem to really use defer yet the federal government has still invested 2.3 million euros in this project.

 To  gain more transparency and fairer recruitment conditions politicians have decided on the development of a seal of quality, but it will be voluntary. Why does the federal ministry of health not create legally binding standards and regulations, just a voluntary quality seal.
Care Worker Careers in germany

 We are told the legislator expressly intended it this way the federal ministry is preparing incentives for firms recruiting with the quality seal, but can a voluntary seal really change much as long as national politics create no binding regulations for the agency market foreign nursing staff can only hope that all clinics scrutinise who they work with as the university hospital of essen does.

 i speak once more with the head of nursing andrei Schmidt Rumporsh vignettes…. 
She Say : Here and here you can see a draft contract from an agency we had a long intensive personal meeting with the agency to discuss possible clauses in the contract, because we wanted to set a certain framework.
Care Worker Careers in germany

 The foreign care workers are supposed to come here and stay for this reason they need to be well looked after, good integration and local support are incredibly important. 

Schmidt Rumporsh, We are working with and for people you can't forget that and it's important to us that we have a good clean process, the healthcare worker shortage is so great that a huge market has developed for recruiting nurses from abroad but many recruitment agencies are operating on the edges of legality. werely on foreign workers and because of this a clear legal framework is crucial for ensuring recruitment is done fairly………………..