"I loved what I studied, but I realised there were just no jobs. It was a bit depressing," Clearwater recalls.
Not one to be got down by circumstances, Clearwater took a long, hard look at the world and decided to do a trade apprenticeship as a carpenter.
She landed herself a trial with a building company, and two and a half years later is nearing the end of her apprenticeship with an impressive set of skills.
Though it is still unusual for a woman to do a building apprenticeship, apprenticeships are far from unusual.
There are now more apprentices and industry trainees than there are students in University, says Josh Williams, head of the Industry Training Federation.
"We now have over 42,000 apprentices in New Zealand, and a further 109,000 industry trainees across a huge range of industries gaining skills and qualifications on-the-job."
Apprenticeships have had a renaissance.
Information for BCITO apprentices.
Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation (BCITO) Chief Executive Warwick Quinn acknowledges the significance of the changes to the vocational education training system proposed by the Minister of Education, Hon Chris Hipkins.