On 21 November, the FDA held its first event on 'The civil service in a new European landscape: unlocking future skills'.
Chief People Officer Rupert McNeil; a packed conference room for the FDA's first skills event for civil servants post-Brexit
With speakers including Permanent Secretary at the new Department for Exiting the EU (DExEU) Oliver Robbins, Civil Service Chief People Officer Rupert McNeil and Institute for Government (IfG) Deputy Director Julian McCrae, the event was aimed at helping civil servants understand the new demands that will be made of them, as well as identifying and sourcing development to assist with this.
Organised in conjunction with Dods and KPMG, the event was chaired by FDA General Secretary Dave Penman, who called on the Government to provide clear political direction and ensure that the civil service has the capacity and capability it needs to successfully deliver Brexit.
Chief People Officer Rupert McNeil highlighted the importance of what he calls revealed competence - civil service adaptability and strengths - and realised incompetence, or "being alert to the things you know you don't know".
Admitting that the civil service has "finite capacity" and that it needs "to take some quite difficult choices", McNeil said he feels "Brexit will force us to be much better at knowledge transfer".
KPMG panel, FDA General Secretary Dave Penman and Chief People Officer Rupert McNeil; IfG Deputy Director Julian McCrae
DExEU Permanent Secretary Oliver Robbins spoke about what Brexit means for the civil service, the skills needed now and what the civil service will look like next year.
He sees the central challenge for the service as being "at its policy and analysis best" and discussed the importance of negotiating skills for all departments, "not just for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office or DExEU".
IfG's Julian McCrae said Brexit will bring "huge amounts of policy issues which need prioritisation", adding that "only Ministers can do that". He considered timings around policy and implementation, questioning whether "a transitional regime is needed".
McCrae added that with Brexit, there seems to be a "much greater recognition that change can't be done on a muddling through basis".
KPMG also ran a session on its work alongside Civil Service Learning, supporting the development of new skills and supplementing existing expertise.
A more detailed report of the event will feature in the next issue of Public Service Magazine.