Professional Development Program (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.