With a rapidly aging population, Germany looks to Balkans for care workers

As Germany’s aging population struggles to find enough care workers, the country’s health minister is mulling funding training programs abroad. However, the “brain drain” risk has some authorities hesitant to sign on.

Joana Bocaj is 25 years old. She’s a nurse in the city of Vlore in southern Albania, but she hopes she won’t be working there much longer. Joana is preparing to leave Albania and start a new working life in the western German city of Dusseldorf.

She heard about the city from a colleague. “I think I’ll have a better life and a better future in Germany,” she says. “Here our salaries are low, and no one values our work. That’s why I’d like to live and work over there.”

Joana will be welcome in Dusseldorf. Until recently, the German government had neglected chronic personnel shortages in the German care sector. The government’s 2017 coalition agreement said that an additional 8,000 care workers were to be employed nationwide. That figure has since been revised upwards, with officials now talking about recruiting at least 13,000 new care workers.

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(Photo: Samantha Mesones/freeimages.com)