Ensuring A Sustainable Pool of Nursing Professionals

Current Situation

The German labour market is increasingly characterised by a wide-spread scarcity of qualified labour. The nursing profession is one of the sectors most heavily afflicted by labour shortages. Different studies predict a shortfall of up to 500.000 nurses in Germany by the year 2030. Recruiting nurses from abroad is one option to increase the labour force in Germany. However, due to various factors, efforts to attract and integrate foreign nurse have been only partially successful.

Project Objectives

Instead of sourcing qualified nurses internationally, another approach is to prepare people in their home country as to successfully participate in an apprenticeship to become a qualified nurse in Germany. The aim of this project is to investigate, what kind of structures and processes would have to be established in order to annually prepare 5.000 young people in East Africa for an apprenticeship as a nurse in Germany. In particular, we address the questions on how to select, and how to prepare the participants in terms of language and intercultural skills as well basic nursing skills so that the participants of the programme will not only successfully complete their training in Germany but also feel at home in Germany – both professionally as well as personally. Building on previous pilot schemes, we are particularly interested in identifying those elements in the sourcing and training process that act as barriers to scaling up to a large number of participants in the programme.

In a later stage, the concepts developed for the nursing profession will be extended to other professions that face significant labour shortages in Germany.

Why Kenya?

For various reasons, Kenya is ideally suited as a source for potential apprentices. For once, given a population of 51.4 million and an annual population growth of 2.6%, Kenya has a sufficiently large pool of labour. Furthermore, by African standards, the Kenyan educational system is well advanced. About 82% of all pupils stay at school until grade 12. However, only 13% of all students have the opportunity to go to university or join a training programme at a tertiary level. Therefore, the Kenyan educational system provides a large number of students that – while qualified for professional training – lack the opportunity to receive this type of training at home. Last, but not least, Kenya can serve as a base to expand this programme to Tanzania, Ruanda and Uganda, countries that are culturally and linguistically similar.

Process for Sourcing Apprentices from East Africa

The question of scalability will be investigated using a five step process:


  • Aptitude testing for selection participants

Issues to be Investigated:

By using a standardized aptitude test, how can the quality of the selection process be improved

The aptitude test aims at identifying the

  • relevant cognitive abilities
  • potenital for cultural integration
  • inherent interest in working in the nursing profession


  • German language skills at the B2 level are a prerequisite for joining the programme
  • Teaching additional medical terminology
  • Intercultural training for working and living in Germany
  • Training in basic nursing skills

Issues to be Investigated:

What are the elements of the curriculum, what are the teaching formats that ensure an effective preparation for the apprenticeship in Germany?


  • Visa
  • Work permit

Issues to be Investigated:

How can a process be designed  that minimizes the administrative burden for both the participants in East Africa as well the prospective employers in Germany?


  • Training to become a qualified nurse (Pflegefachfrau / Pflegefachmann) at a hospital or senior citizen home in Germany

Issues to be Investigated:

What accompanying activities support the successful completion of the apprenticeship?


  • Supporting the participants with integrating in Germany professionally and personally?

Issues to be Investigated:

What concepts for integration prove successful?

Project Partners

The research network is currently in the formative stages. Further partners are currently being acquired.

• The University of Applied Sciences Koblenz has the project lead and coordinates the various project partners
• The project is partially funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research programme  “FH Persona“.


•  For more than 25 years, arbquest Befragungssysteme has been developing fully customisable, target group specific and scientifically based psychometric aptitude diagnostics.
•  arbquest Befragungssysteme will be responsible for developing the aptitudes tests used for selecting the participants in the programme.


  • The Gemeinnützige Gesellschaft der Franziskanerinnen zu Olpe with more than 100 hospitals, senior citizens homes and other sites in North Rhine-Westphalia and northern Rhineland-Palatinate and 15.000 employees is another large faith-based partner of our project.


• The Equip Africa Institute is affiliated with the Mount Kenya University, one of the largest private universities in Eastern Africa
• The Institute offers a large variety of technical and vocational training courses.

•  The Gesundheitsholding Tauberfranken ist part of the BBT-Group. With more than 100 hospitals and senior citizen homes and more than 14.000 employees, the BBT-group is one of the largest faith-based healthcare groups in Germany.

  • Projekt 3 gGmbH is an organization offering various social services including care for the elderly. The company employees more than 500 employees at its 10 locations the states Rhineland-Palatine and Saxony-Anhalt.


• The African Nurses/Pfleger in Germany is a network of more than 2.000 African nursing professionals working in Germany
• The network provides its members with the opportunity to exchange information on all aspects of the German healthcare system and working and living in Germany
• African Nurses/Pfleger in Deutschland is both involved in the development of the initial aptitude test as well the programmes for integrating the participants into life and work in Germany.

•  Including the Kenyan diaspora is crucial for developing programmes that adequately take conditions both in Kenya and Germany into account
•  AG-Career Hub founded by Kenyan Professionals based in Germany is an information and consultinx^g platform with a key focus of establishing linkages to facilitate partnerships and collaborations with companies, universities and diaspora communities in Germany and in Africa.
•  AG-Career Hubs supports the establishment of the research network with its expansive list of contacts both in Kenya and the Kenyan diaspora in Germany