Professional Development Program (PDP)

The next generation of the Professional Development Program (PDP), available in 2017, aligns with the SkillsUSA Framework and is the next step in the Career Readiness Curriculum (CRC). While the CRC develops an awareness level of learning, PDP takes your students to the next level of demonstration within the SkillsUSA learning continuum. Still student-driven and still dedicated to providing the critical skills for career success, this version of PDP has been modernized and refreshed to keep students interested and engaged in learning. It is also streamlined to be an easy-to-use, turnkey tool for instructors. Prior instruction of PDP can be easily transitioned into the newer version.

The PDP now has 15 project-based learning experiences that contextualize the elements of the SkillsUSA Framework in real-work situations. All of the resources are delivered digitally through a PDP learning site that provides:

  • 24/7 access to students and instructors on computers, tablets or smartphones
  • Student discussion boards for secure online interaction and collaboration
  • Automatic tracking of student progress toward completion
  • Built-in grading and badging system leading to the PDP degrees
  • A learning community for instructors to share best practices and additional tools and resources

For more than two decades, SkillsUSA’s Professional Development Program has been a key resource for developing employability skills. During this time, the program has equipped thousands of students with valuable leadership, professional and employability skills

PDP benefits:

  • Prepares students for the workforce or higher education through authentic, project-based experiences to ensure they are career-ready
  • Delivers the skills employers want and involves industry in the classroom
  • Empowers teachers with high-quality, easy-to-use 21st-century skill development resources that are engaging and locally adaptable
  • Advances the impact of the SkillsUSA Framework by integrating with existing resources into one system
  • Provides a smooth transition from the workbooks to the digital version

About the PDP

SkillsUSA’s Professional Development Program (PDP) helps students develop the skills they need to make a smooth transition to the workforce or higher education. The program – available in printed workbooks or online – guides students through 76 employability skill activities that are covered in seven levels of the program.

Sample Activities:

  • Engage in a team negotiation activity
  • Identify effective communication skills
  • Recognize stress factors
  • Establish short-term goals
  • Discover self-motivation techniques
  • Define future occupations
  • Develop personal financial skills
  • Develop a resume
  • Identify and apply conflict resolution skills
  • Demonstrate interviewing skills
  • Establish career goals
  • Predict employment trends
  • Develop a relationship with a mentor
  • Manage a project and evaluate others
  • Organize employment portfolio
  • Observe and critique a meeting
  • Demonstrate business meeting skills
  • Demonstrate social etiquette
  • Recognize safety issues
  • Demonstrate evaluation skills
  • Perform a skill demonstration

The curriculum can be used as a self-development course or for group instruction. It can be integrated into the existing curriculum or used as a separate course of study. Students can be recognized for achievement as they develop their professional and occupational skills.

This informational flier is a great resource for you to learn the basics about PDP.

PDP provides the tools to strengthen school-based learning, work-based learning and connecting activities as outlined in the School to Work Opportunities Act.

Skills lessons include self-assessments to communications skills, ethics, conflict resolution, government awareness, time management skills, career research and more.

Use of the PDP encourages local business involvement in the training of tomorrow’s entry-level workers. The curriculum can be used as an individual self-development course or for group instruction. It can be integrated into the existing curriculum or used as a separate course of study. Students are recognized for individual achievement as they develop their professional and occupational skills.

The program enables instructors to become managers of the learning process by encouraging students to become responsible for their own learning and development. PDP links academic and occupational programs as well as business, industry and community leaders in partnerships for student development.

PDP features include the following:
  • Multiple instructional strategies for high school and college/postsecondary career and technical education programs.
  • Individual and team-building skills.
  • Activity-driven and student-driven lesson plans.
  • Training seminars.
Industry leaders, including the following, have endorsed PDP:
  • Air Products
  • AlliedSignal Aerospace
  • Caterpillar Inc.
  • DEWALT Industrial Tool Co.
  • General Motors Corp.
  • Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A.
  • JC Penney Co., Inc.
  • Lowe’s
  • Sears, Roebuck and Co.

Benefits and Features (for teachers, students, and businesses)



Helps teachers do the following:

  • Deliver employability skills.
  • Meet SCANS requirements.
  • Involve industry in the classroom.
  • Facilitate teamwork between academic teachers, occupational teachers and business and industry.
  • Manage the learning process.
  • Provides school-based workforce learning.
  • Easy to learn and implement.
  • Practical, teacher friendly and ready to use lesson plans.
  • Flexible.
  • Individual or group instructions.
  • Can be used in program design.
  • Student workbooks.
  • Designed by teachers for teachers.
  • Designed by industry.
  • Awards and recognition for student motivation.
  • Built-in record keeping.


  • Delivers skills employers want.
  • Builds a portfolio.
  • Teaches job search skills.
  • Teaches workplace values.
  • Puts students in touch with business and industry.
  • Enables students to direct their own learning process.
  • Easy to follow / self-teach.
  • Work in groups or alone.
  • Workbook can serve as a skills/portfolio piece.

Business & Industry

  • Provides a method to influence public education/establish skills standards.
  • Can ensure students have the skills and workplace values industry.
  • Provides an opportunity to network with future employers.
  • Allows for reviews of student work and sign off on tasks.
  • Completed workbooks list students’ skills.

Winner of the 1996 IACET Oracle Award and the 1996 AVA-VIM Award of Excellence.