Wales's current generation of teachers is probably the best trained and prepared the country has ever had, according to the profession's regulator.
Gary Brace, chief executive of the General Teaching Council for Wales, made the comments on the publication of new figures about teacher numbers.
The council's annual statistics digest showed that the proportion of registered teachers aged under 45, considered to be in "mid-career"', has increased from 48 per cent to 57 per cent over the past eight years. There is a similar trend among newly qualified teachers.
Now, almost 56 per cent of NQTs are aged under 25, compared with just 41 per cent four years ago.
"While the experience of older teachers who are retiring is very valuable, we are nevertheless very optimistic about the growth in the proportion of teachers who are in the middle of their careers," Mr Brace said.
"This is probably the best-trained and prepared generation of teachers we have ever had. Most are also highly IT literate and therefore able to optimise the use of technology in the classroom."
The proportion of heads aged over 50 has also dropped from 66 per cent in 2006 to 58 per cent in 2010, while the proportion in their 40s rose from 26 per cent to 32 per cent over the same period.
Mr Brace said the age profile is significant as it helps shape decisions about what training and development resources are needed.
He also praised the "new breed" of better-equipped heads coming through the system who have taken the National Professional Qualification for Headship. The statistics show that 610 of Wales's 1,738 headteachers now hold the NPQH, compared with just 256 in 2006.
Original paper headline: Mid-career numbers boom is boost for profession, GTCW claims