Press release

Who will take care of us in the future? Shortage of skilled nursing care workers already foreseeable

46/2010 | Bonn, 06.12.2010

The current demographic trend will lead to a shortage of skilled labour in nursing care occupations: The year 2025 will see a shortfall of some 152,000 in the number of workers in nursing occupations needed for the anticipated number of hospital patients and persons who require care. Model calculations by the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB) and the Federal Statistical Offices (Destatis) show that, calculated in terms of full-time employees, this is equivalent to approximately 112,000 full-time nursing staff in hospitals, ambulant or (partially) stationary nursing care facilities. These model calculations indicate that the demand for full-time nursing personnel (some 940,000) will exceed the supply (approximately 828,000) in 2025.

Calculations that BIBB has performed on the basis of the Microcensus show that some three quarters (74.8%) of all trained nursing care professionals worked in this field in 2005. This occupational group is comprised of nurses (including midwives), nurse's aides, geriatric nurses and geriatric nurse's aides. Trained nursing care professionals however constitute only 56.4% of all persons who work in a nursing care occupation.When only trained nursing care professionals are examined, a shortage of some 39,000 full-time nursing care workers could already be observed back in 2005. This shortage will increase to approximately 193,000 by the year 2025 while the supply of trained full-time nursing care workers will total 747,000. It has however been possible to draw on unskilled or semi-skilled nursing care workers to date to satisfy the demand for nursing personnel. However, starting 2018 even the large gain that has been accomplished to date thanks to this approach (a 43.6% increase in nursing care workers who do not come from the nursing field) will not be enough to meet growing demand.

Studies conducted by the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) on the basis of the Microcensus show that the growing demand for nursing care personnel could be met if the employment structure seen in Germany's eastern states could be established in the country's western states, namely: more full-time employees rather than part-time employees. If this could be accomplished, the number of full-time nursing care employees would increase by 9.5%. This would reduce the shortage forecast for the year 2025 to 34,000 full-time nursing care workers. This would however require a trend toward longer work weeks / more full-time jobs in nursing care occupations. Such a trend has not however been evident in the years since 2000. Rather, part-time employment, particularly among women in Germany's western states, represents a conscious decision. According to the Microcensus, in 2005, 69% of the female nursing personnel in the territory of former West Germany cited personal or family-related obligations as the primary reason for their part-time employment.

Based on this, it would appear that making it easier for people who work in the nursing care field to balance the demands of family and work is the key to increasing the supply of full-time nursing care workers. Analyses also show that increasing the number of people working in nursing care occupations by increasing the amount of marginal part-time work is not enough to offset the shortage of qualified nursing care workers: A total of 77.4% of trained nursing care workers who work full time are employed in their field. This figure is 76.6% for trained nursing care workers who work part time. By contrast only 47.9% of the trained nursing care workers who work on a marginal part-time basis actually work in a nursing care occupation.

The model calculations determined the demand for full-time nursing care workers on the basis of Destatis' health care personnel calculation and its projection of the number of hospital cases and persons in need of care. The demand trend was estimated with the help of the BIBB DEMOS model by deriving the number of full-time nursing care workers from the projection of persons who are employed in health care occupations that do not require a license. The BIBB DEMOS model is part of the QUBE project "Beruf und Qualifikation in der Zukunft" (Occupation and Qualification/Training in the Future), which BIBB is conducting together with the Institute for Employment Research (IAB).

For further information in German, please see the article "Projektionen des Personalbedarfs und -angebots in Pflegeberufen bis 2025" (Projections for the Supply of and Demand for Workers in Nursing Care Occupations up to the Year 2025) in "Wirtschaft und Statistik 11/2010".
Details about the projections BIBB and IAB have issued regarding the "Qualifikations- und Arbeitskräfteentwicklung bis zum Jahr 2025" (Qualification and Workforce Trends up to the Year 2025) are available in German on the BIBB website at www.qube-projekt.de under the heading "FAQ-Fachkräftemangel".

For further information, please contact:

  • Bundesinstitut für Berufsbildung (BIBB - Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training)
    Tobias Maier
    Tel.: +49 (0)228 / 107-2043
  • Statistisches Bundesamt (Destatis - Federal Statistical Office)
    Anja Afentakis
    Tel.: +49 (0)611 / 75-8128

Reprint free of charge. Voucher copy requested.