Writing Workshop

Lack of skilled personnel in nursing care

Everybody’s talking about a shortage of skilled workers. This is an acute problem, especially in the area of nursing and affects virtually all hospitals, nursing homes and care facilities for the elderly. But what is the problem and how acute is it really? In the following the current situation is briefly described and dealt with the causes of the lack of specialists. To the conclusion some solution suggestions are presented.

Thanks to modern medicine and good living conditions, people are getting older and older and enjoy good health into old age. However, the risks of a serious illness and thus the need for care increase with age. Currently, about 3.3 million people are in need of care. Since relatives are usually unable to provide care themselves, the demand for professional care is increasing more and more. According to a 2015 study, however, only 1.1 million nursing staff are employed. “According to the study, job oppurtunities for certified geriatric nurses and specialists average 171 days in Germany. For every 100 registered jobs (outside temporary employment) there are only 29 unemployed.” (Bundesministerium für Gesundheit, 2018)

One of the main causes, as indicated above, is demographic change. “The decline in the birth rate and the further development of the health care system are bringing about a change in the population structure. (TTA Personal GmbH, 2017) As a result, people are ageing and diseases such as dementia and age-related depression are on the rise. These clinical pictures are closely connected with the increasing age and require a higher expenditure of the treatment. For example, the length of stay in hospital is increasing sharply. This is contrary to cost budgeting in the health care sector. The effects are usually to the disadvantage of the nursing staff, as they are the weakest link. Personnel costs in hospitals or nursing homes are particularly high, so there have often been personnel savings or budget cuts in the past, which has had a strong impact on the working climate and the attractiveness of the profession, which is another cause of the shortage of skilled workers. Shift systems, physical hard work, poor pay, organisational problems and insufficient training discourage many from working. As a result, there are also too few young people who are interested in and learn the profession of health care nurse or geriatric nurse. (cf. TTA Personal GmbH, 2017) Although the number of training courses has risen again in recent years (by around 2.1 per cent), it is still not sufficient. In the meantime, the Federal Government, the countries and associations are also promoting initial, further and continuing training because they have recognised the acute shortage. (cf. Bundesministerium für Gesundheit, 2018)

This lack of funding in recent years has also contributed to the current situation. (cf. DGB Bundesvorstand, 2011) The question that arises now is what can be done about the current situation? One of the most important solutions would be to make the profession more attractive. Many hospitals now offer premiums if you decide to stay for several years. For example, 10000 euros or even company cars are offered. Usually there is also an advertising premium. In addition, the salaries between nursing and care for the elderly must also be adjusted. While a nurse earns about 3314 Euros on average, a geriatric nurse gets only 2746 Euros. (cf. Bundesagentur für Arbeit, 2019) However, training and further education are also to be improved in order to increase the number of training courses. In the next 4 years, an increase of approximately 10 percent is to be achieved. “Family minister Franziska Giffey (SPD), Secretary of Employment Hubertus Heil (SPD) and health minister Jens Spahn (CDU) have signed a voluntary commitment with 111 concrete measures. This includes, among other things, the expansion of training, further education, school and university places.” (Zeitonline GmbH, 2019)

 In order to promote the compatibility of family and career, the Federal Government intends to use information campaigns to advertise and provide support. (cf. ibid)

In summary, it can be said that the shortage of skilled workers is an acute problem, especially in the area of nursing care too little has been done in recent years to make the occupational field attractive and to reward and pay people according to their work. In the meantime, however, the problem has been recognised and every effort is being made to combat it, which will probably take a few more years.


Bundesagentur für Arbeit. Arbeitsmarktsituation im Pflegebereich. Bundesagentur für Arbeit. 2019,

Bundesministerium für Gesundheit. Pflegekräfte. Bundesministerium für Gesundheit. 2018,

DBG Bundesvorstand. Fachkräftemangel in der Pflegebranche ist hausgemacht. Berlin. DGB Bundesvorstand. 2011,

TTA Personal GmbH. Fachkräftemangel in der Pflege. Berlin.TTA Personal GmbH. 2017,

Zeitonline GmbH. Wird es bald attraktiver in der Pflege zu Arbeiten?. Zeitonline GmbH. 2017,