TwwedleInOutLike it or not, the EU referendum is approaching at a worryingly high speed. It’s less than three months away, which feels like a really short amount of time to make a really big long-term decision.

One of the most worrying aspects is that it seems to be rooted in a very short-term playground tiff between a couple of public schoolboys with a sense of entitlement: hence my initial voting preference for a third option on the ballot paper along the lines of “a plague on both your houses“.  Ain’t gonna happen.

Plan B is to think about it and come to a considered judgement, even though my considered judgement carries exactly the same weight as that of somebody who tosses a coin in the voting booth and hopes for the best.

The main problem for those of us wanting to make an informed and considered judgement is that the public space is clogged up by the doom-mongers of both camps earnestly wringing their hands and warning us to beware the ides of March (although, actually June and not ides, but that’s politicians for you).

There’s a good example of this today from Education Secretary Nicky Morgan who says:

It’s clear that if Britain leaves Europe it will be young people who suffer the most, left in limbo while we struggle to find and then negotiate an alternative model. In doing so we risk that lost generation becoming a reality

Which is all very well, but, as with most of these claims, is a bit short on facts. Are young people planning to go in their droves to and work in Europe? To be honest, I don’t know.

What I do know is that the number of young people taking modern languages at GCSE is continuing to fall. My local college of further education offers no foreign languages; although it does offer a number of ESOL and EFL courses.

What I do know is that Great Britain has a much lower youth unemployment rate than most European countries and that those with even lower rates are just as likely to be outside the EU as in. The OECD countries with the lowest rates are Germany and Japan –  both countries with aging populations, which underlines the danger of relying on mono-dimensional statistics. Maybe schools should start teaching Japanese.

Unemployment statistics: OECD Data