Apologies, everyone, for some confusion with the DID blog this week: I posted an incomplete blogpost on census returns and estimates of the future population of the USA. I generally get a blog idea, draft up the bits and pieces like the title and photo and then come back to write the body later. Unfortunately this week caught up with me and I couldn’t get back to writing the body of the text of the blog before the date I had set for its posting had come around. So that’s why I posted an empty blog post this week. And now you know how the magic behind this blog works. (For those who didn’t notice – just ignore this lifting of the curtain!)

Anyway, on to more important (less important?) matters – Germany’s ageing population and its efforts to find people to work as carers in its retirement homes and hospices. As dw.com reports, there is a shortage of qualified staff to look after the increasing number of elderly in the German healthcare system. Back in January there were a reported 38,000 posts that the care sector was struggling to fill. But that number seems to have been on the optimistic side — now Health Minister Jens Spahn has estimated that there are anywhere from 50 to 80,000 vacancies in care homes and hospitals. That suggests that the problem is a large one and one that has not yet been accurately gauged by the government. The demand for these care workers is only going to increase: there were 3.3 million elderly Germans requiring care in 2017 and this is expected to rise to 4 million in 2030 and 5.3 million in 2050.

However, the Government is trying to plug the holes: it has set a target of finding more trainees for the sector by 2023. A number of ministries hav been tasked with addressing the shortage and there have been high-profile visits to countries like Kosovo and the Philippines in order to import workers to care for ageing Germans.

Along similar lines, Health Minister Spahn recently travelled to Mexico City to recruit nursing and other staff for German care homes. He was also helping to speed up the process by which nurses from Mexico can come to Germany – visa procedures would be accelerated while professional qualifications from Mexico would be recognised in Germany. Spahn also met with representatives of local training institutes, asked them to recruit Mexican workers and invited them to familiarize themselves with the German care system.

Unfortunately for those seeking to grow the German care industry, work in the sector is deeply unattractive for many living in Germany due to low wages, overwork and reports of mistreatment of staff and patients. (But apart from those minor issues…who wouldn’t want to work in the care sector?) Perhaps the German Government could try and make the care sector more attractive and valued as a place of work rather than importing labour from countries who might not complain about such conditions.  

Marcus Roberts is co-editor of Demography is Destiny, MercatorNet's blog on population issues.

Marcus Roberts is a Senior Researcher at the Maxim Institute in Auckland, New Zealand, and was co-editor of the former MercatorNet blog, Demography is Destiny. Marcus has a background in the law, both...