Introduction. The deficiency of highly skilled professionals meeting the requirements of the modern labour market has become the reason for search of new, more effective regulation mechanisms of vocational training and personnel certification for post-industrial knowledge-based economy. As international practice demonstrates, such mechanisms could be the National Qualifications Systems (NQS), National Qualifications Framework (NQF) and Professional Standards (PS) that are comparable with the European Qualifications Framework (EQF), designed for lifelong education implementation.Aim. Having analysed the international experience, the aims of the article are to discuss the issues of NQF and PS implementation and to consider the possibility of adaptation of the best models of foreign practice for the Russian realities.Methodology and research methods. The methods of collecting empirical information, comparative and conceptual-terminological analysis were applied in the course of studying methodological and methodical aspects of construction and functioning of NQS; the methods of generalization, interpretation and modeling were applied.The results and scientific novelty. The complex of the systemic problems which restrict the process of NQS formation launched in Russia is noted. The revealed reasons are explained by the developed psychological, organizational and methodical stereotypes; the ways of overcoming the current problems are outlined. According to the authors, the key problem is the dichotomy between professional and educational qualifications which does not exist in the international discourse, but is deeply rooted in consciousness of the Russians. Such a distinction involves irrational duplication of procedures for the qualifications assessment and generates a number of other difficulties interfering effective development of NQS and obtaining the maximum benefits from its use. In order to resolve the revealed contradictions and shortcomings, the authors analysed the experience of other countries where national systems of qualifications are implemented. Based on the international practice invariant systemically important parameters and variable characteristics of NQS and NQF are singled out and described. The typology of the qualifications framework and the principles of their design are proved.Practical significance. The research materials and findings, recommendations and suggestions for integrated improvement of mechanisms of Federal State Educational Standards, introduced PS and the system of independent assessment of qualifications can be useful for professional development of the experts and methodologists participating in design and modernization of NQF, development of professional and educational standards along with the main and additional programs of vocational training.