More West Australian schoolteachers are working past retirement age making it harder for teaching graduates to find jobs, local press reported Monday. Data from the WA Education Department show the number of teachers working past 65 has risen from 469 in 2010 to 803 this year, a jump of 71 percent. The rise has boosted the overall number of teachers aged 55 and over to 25 percent to 6,540 during the same period. This senior group now makes up almost a third of the state's 20, 600 public teachers. Experts say older authority figures foster respect but the widening age gap between teachers and tech-savvy pupils presents challenges as the use of technology in classrooms increases. The more teachers delay retirement, due to financial insecurity after the global financial crisis, the fewer jobs there will be for graduates. University of WA dean of education Helen Wildy said the rate of retirement had slowed since the global financial crisis "and is getting slower". "It means there is not as many opportunities for (graduate) teachers but there will be a time when this baby boomer generation will retire en masse, creating a big demand then for teachers to replace them," she was quoted by the West Australian as saying. Professor Wildy said older teachers brought knowledge and experience into the classroom but it was healthy for students to be taught by teachers of different ages. WA State School Teachers Union president Pat Byrne said the federal government's plans to increase the retirement age to 70 meant the trend would continue. "Most teaching is not dependent on physical health, it's not construction work," she said. "A good healthy person is able to teach well past their 60s." Department workforce executive director Cliff Gillam said until recently most teachers had retired by age 62 but the global financial crisis and the attractiveness of increased wages had lengthened careers. "The department encourages teachers to stay in the workforce so students can benefit from the skills and experience of older teachers," he said.