FRANKFURT (AFP) - A pilot project unveiled on Thursday seeks to attract Chinese nurses to Germany to make up for a staff shortage that is expected to worsen in coming years.
Five young women from China have been working at a residential care home for the elderly in Frankfurt since the beginning of January as part of a wider programme aiming to bring as many as 150 trained Chinese nurses to Germany by the end of this year.
More than 2.5 million people in Germany currently need nursing care, a number that is expected to increase in the coming years.
At the same time, estimates put the current shortfall in the number of qualified staff at around 50,000, a number that will certainly rise, too.
Recruiting nurses from neighbouring European countries will not be sufficient, said the head of the nursing employers' federation, Thomas Greiner.
"We're convinced that we'll have to find qualified staff from outside Europe," Mr Greiner said.
The 150 Chinese nurses will all have a nursing degree and a year's practical experience in China. In addition, they undergo eight months of inter-cultural training and language lessons.
They will initially work as auxiliary staff but later as fully qualified nurses.