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Opening of the Central Service Centre for Professional Recognition in Bonn: Service point to facilitate immigration of skilled workers

Opening of the Central Service Centre for Professional Recognition in Bonn : Service point to facilitate immigration of skilled workers

In order to facilitate the immigration of skilled workers, there is a new service centre in Bonn that checks their qualifications. It was opened on Monday by Anja Karliczek and Hubertus Heil.

Sometimes Michael Villas is homesick. "We are far away from our family," says the 37-year-old nurse. And yet he is happy to live in Germany. His quality of life has improved, he is paid much better and the health system in Germany has many advantages. Villas still had to get used to the climate when he came to Germany in 2016, but that is no longer a problem.

The nurse comes from the Philippines and works at the University Hospital Bonn (UKB). To make it easier for professionals like him to find their way around Germany in the future, Federal Education Minister Anja Karliczek and Federal Labour Minister Hubertus Heil opened the Central Service Agency for Professional Recognition (ZSBA) in Bonn on Monday.

Like 350 other nurses at the UKB (since 2017), Villas was recruited by the Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the Bundesagentur für Arbeit (BA) to work in Germany. In Bonn alone, according to the BA, there were 376 vacancies in January 2020 for 137 registered unemployed nurses, paramedics and midwives. In the IT sector, there were 263 vacancies with 92 registered unemployed - the shortage of skilled workers is evident in many fields of work throughout Germany. "It is becoming a brake on growth in some sectors," said Karliczek on Monday at the opening. Among other things due to demographic change, he said that it is essential to attract skilled workers from abroad to Germany.

According to Heil, the ZSBA is a central hub for successfully implementing the law on immigration of skilled workers, which will come into force on March 1. In the newly established service centre, 30 employees help foreign skilled workers who want to work in Germany. Up to now, the approximately 1400 regional offices in the individual countries have worked according to the residence principle. However, according to the BA, the central advisory service should make the procedures for applicants from abroad faster, more transparent and more uniform. "In this central and supra-regional office, there are people who are guides and who help to get through the jungle of the German working world," says Karliczek.

Villas did not yet benefit from the ZSBA when he entered the country about four years ago. But in his opinion the bureaucracy was not the biggest hurdle: "The biggest problem was the language." Even before entering the country he had to achieve level B1, and in Germany he took part in further language courses. "It's not so easy at the beginning. You have to put in a lot of effort and a lot of patience", says the nurse. Villas had already gained ten years of professional experience in the Philippines - at least two must be proven, otherwise the process would be very long.

The complicated procedures that exist in Germany are an obstacle that could be changed, Heil said on Monday. Other hurdles for immigrants, such as the "complicated weather" as well as the "internationally relatively complex language" were less easy to remove. But the new service center was a first step towards containing the bureaucratic obstacles, he said: For example, the ZSBA will help with procedural support up to entry and the organising of qualification measures. It provides advice on the recognition procedure for professional qualifications and supports foreign experts in compiling the necessary documents.

The university hospital alone wants to attract 180 foreign specialists to Germany this year, explains Dirk Roggendorf, responsible for recruiting international nursing staff at the UKB. "The lack of carers is a worldwide problem", says Roggendorf. The clinical center looks among other areas in Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia and Mexico for specialists. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), recruitment in these countries is allowed without endangering the job market. "We are not poaching people from the hospitals. Most of them are on the street because they are not paid enough or there are too many nurses in the country," says Roggendorf.

In his home country, Villas would only have earned 200 to 500 Euro as a nurse, although the cost of living is quite high. "The price of petrol is the same as in Germany," says Villas as an example. His family came to Germany a year ago, his wife is also a nurse and wants to work at the university hospital. Today, Villas is the first foreign specialist to complete a specialist training course in anaesthesia and intensive care at the university hospital.

In Germany he can also gain a lot of experience and get to know a new culture. "For example, there is better equipment and other clinical pictures, so you gain experience," says the 37-year-old. In addition, the health system here is much better - in the Philippines he has to pay a lot of money for health insurance. And what Villas also likes: "Most people follow the rules, for example in road traffic. With us it's completely different," he says and laughs out loud. He does not always miss the conditions in his home country.

(Original text: Marie Schneider; Translation: Mareike Graepel)