Academic Literature

Refugee Health Professionals in Germany – Challenges and strategies in labour market integration

The global healthcare workforce is facing skilled labour shortage. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates a global shortage of 14.5 million health professionals by 2030. The European Commission estimates a shortfall of 1 million health workers in Europe by 2020, and employment agencies in Germany predict a nationwide lack of health professionals. In order to address this shortage, nearly all European countries depend on the recruitment of foreign-trained health professionals. Another strategy that has been implemented by the German government to address this shortage is the so-called “activation of domestic potential”. With that, the German government aims to address those groups that have difficult access to the labour market, such as refugees in order to improve their employability and use them to fill shortages. As the number of refugees in Germany has increased since 2015, the German government has recognized the need to address their labour market integration. However, refugees belong to a particularly vulnerable group in the labour market facing unemployment or underemployment.

Refugee health professionals are a vulnerable group in a host country’s labour market as they experience several barriers on their path to labour market integration. This study aims to identify challenges refugee health professionals and their supervisors experience at their workplaces and strategies they have developed to overcome these barriers. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with refugee health professionals who have been living in Germany for an average of four years and their supervisors (n = 24). The interviews were analysed using qualitative content analysis.

Nine themes were identified: (1) recognition of qualifications, (2) language competencies, (3) differing healthcare systems, (4) working culture, (5) challenges with patients, (6) challenges with team members, (7) emotional challenges, (8) discrimination and (9) exploitation.

Results indicate the need to implement structural changes in order to improve the labour market experiences of refugee health professionals.

Policy recommendations

Although they have developed strategies to overcome these barriers, structural and institutional changes are needed in order to improve the working environment. In the following, the most important conclusions from this study are pointed out as recommendations in order to contribute to a better labour market and workplace integration of refugee health professionals. First, there is a need to offer job-specific language courses and courses addressing formal and cultural aspects of work (as it is done for example in Sweden. Similarly, local team members need to be sensitized for cooperation with refugee health professionals in order to decrease the potential for conflict. Second, structural changes within teams need to be implemented in order to supervise refugee health professionals and ensure a proper induction at the beginning. Third, in light of the experienced barriers, the discrimination and the exploitation, there is a need to empower refugee health professionals and make their qualifications and their potential visible. Fourth, measures of diversity management and anti-discrimination need to be implemented and supported by the management board. Fifth, compliance with working rights must be ensured and team members as well as refugee health professionals need to be informed about their working rights.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story @ Labour Market Integration of Refugee Health Professionals in Germany: Challenges and Strategies – Khan‐Gökkaya – 2021 – International Migration – Wiley Online Library


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