Europe’s ageing society: more labour mobility could help EU meet demand for health and long-term care workers

A report published today by the Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) says that the EU’s health and long-term care workforce will need to grow by 11 million workers between 2018 and 2030 to meet the demands of an ageing society. Much of the demand is being met by domestic education and training, while migration and intra-EU mobility plays an increasingly important role. In 2018, there were almost two million health and long-term care workers in the EU working in a country other than their country of birth. The JRC report recommends integrating current labour migration channels with more specific considerations for health and long-term care systems, while keeping in line with the WHO Global Code of Practice. This could foster mobility flows, with benefits for countries of origin and destination. It would also facilitate recognition of qualifications and full activation of skills of the EU’s migrant workforce. Vice-President for Democracy and Demography, Dubravka Šuica, said: “Europe is an ageing continent, and while a longer life expectancy and living more years in good health are first and foremost an achievement, we must prepare for an increasing demand in long-term care. Our shared challenge will be to ensure accessible, affordable, quality long-term care and an adequate workforce.” Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel, also commented: “The Joint Research Centre’s analysis of our changing demography and its impact on the demand for health and long-term care is a timely contribution as Europe tackles one of the key challenges of an ageing society.” The Commission has taken a series of policy initiatives to support EU countries to address the challenges of an ageing population and the impact on the health and long-term care sectors, including the first steps towards a European Health Union. The Commission’s recent Green Paper on Ageing opened a wide public consultation, also on how to build resilient health and long-term care systems. Another important initiative to be put forward soon is the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan. The Pillar provides a compass to tackle the social and economic challenges of our time, including demographic change. Read the JRC press release and full report here.