Training Nurses from Vietnam to Become Geriatric Nurses in Germany

  • Country of destination: Germany
  • Country of origin: Vietnam
  • Sectors: Healthcare
  • Skill level: Mid-level
  • Timeline: 2012 - 2016
  • Number of beneficiaries: 200


For four years, Germany conducted a pilot program that trained 200 people from Vietnam in geriatric nursing skills. As a result of its success and in order to test the approach for general nursing, a follow-up pilot project for 150 Vietnamese apprentices in nursing was implemented from 2016 to 2019.

Why was it started?

Like many high-income countries, Germany is suffering from a nursing shortage. The sector is programed to need 150,000 new nurses by 2025, and the need is expected to grow, given Germany’s aging population. To care for the elderly alone Germany is projected to need more than 200,000 additional nursing staff by 2030, including almost 100,000 geriatric nurses.

The World Health Organization (WHO) largely prohibits the active recruitment of nurses from low- and middle-income countries with health worker shortages. Germany negotiated a cooperation agreement with Vietnam as a way to increase the stock of skilled nurses at elder care facilities in Germany.

How does it work?

Before leaving Vietnam, trainees underwent a 6-month (first cohort) or 12-month (second cohort) training course in German, intercultural training, and practical preparation. After receiving their language certification, the trainees spent two years (first cohort) or three years (second cohort) in Germany to obtain their geriatric nursing qualification.

The program was commissioned and funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) in cooperation with the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs in Vietnam and implemented by the German Development Agency (GIZ) with support of the German Federal Employment Agency’s International Placement Service (ZAV). GIZ supported the integration of the trainees in Germany.

What impact has it had?

Trainees were brought to Germany in two phases: 100 in 2013 and another 100 in 2015. Of the first cohort, none left the program prematurely, and 93 percent passed the exam and were able to work as specialists in geriatric care. The program received mostly positive feedback from caregivers, their relatives, employers, superiors, and teachers. The final evaluation noted that young people who have completed their nursing education in Vietnam and are highly motivated to learn German are particularly well suited for this kind of program. High-quality language training and preparation in Vietnam as well as intercultural awareness are important for success.

Following this pilot, Germany ran another pilot (2016–19). As a result of the success of these pilots, Germany scaled up its approach. Its new program, Recruiting Trainees from Vietnam (Triple Win Nurses), which will run between 2019 and 2023, will offer training opportunities in both general and geriatric nursing facilities.