Founder and former leader of the UNC Basdeo Panday lamented that graduates of tertiary-education institutions have failed to become innovators.
He urged youths to use their degrees to create more opportunities rather than rely on their qualifications to seek employment.
Speaking before a packed auditorium at the University of Trinidad and Tobago's O'Meara campus on Thursday afternoon, Panday encouraged the graduates to use their newly acquired skills to benefit their communities and the nation.
"The present (tertiary-education) system seems to be oriented to producing graduates looking for a job, instead of producing graduates who will, by creating new inventions and innovations, will create jobs. Graduates of the class of 2019, let me stress upon you the importance of your roles to ensure our nation moves forward on the path of sustainable growth and development.
"I encourage you to use your knowledge and creativity to make our businesses and government more efficient and effective. Use your skills to make more novel products."
Citing his efforts to promote science, technology and mathematical education to further invest in TT's energy sector during his tenure as prime minister, Panday said there was need now more than ever to find new and innovative ideas to develop the nation outside of oil and gas.
He also called on graduates to take charge of their futures, take risks and "be bold" by coming up with new products, systems and techniques to improve the quality of life in TT.
Panday received an honorary doctorate in law from the UTT. Calypsonian Robert "Lord Nelson" Nelson ws made an honorary distinguished fellow and Merle Albino-de Coteau received an honorary doctorate in fine arts.