Chance to be a zupervisor

Imagine a themepark where kids get to dress up and play engineer, lawyer, journalist or actor. Sounds like a fun place to be? Well, it's here in Malaysia and set to open some time in the first quarter of 2012.

That's KidZania we're talking about, in case you still haven't heard.

Children play and learn in a perfectly orchestrated environment that mimics the workings of a real-life city, but in miniature; where scaled-down replicas of actual amenities and services allow children to experience life as adults in the city.

Now your child can find out what it’s like to put out fires, treat patients, and even work as a part of a cabin crew!

The Mexican chain of family entertainment centres – already educating millions of children in eight countries – has landed in Malaysia - so it won’t be long until Malaysian children know what it’s like to be a grown-up, in a safe and controlled environment.

Children enter the city via an (AirAsia) airline terminal, and upon arriving are presented with a cheque for 50 Kidzos – the official currency of KidZania. They can then deposit the Kidzos into their (CIMB) account, or spend as they wish.

Oh, and, there are no money changers in KidZania so if a child runs out of money there will be no bailing them out. So, how do the children make more money? After all, as they will learn all too soon, 50 Kidzos isn’t really all that much. Well, this is where they learn the basic fundamentals of life: You need money to survive, and you need to work to earn that money.

This bid to earn money is where the real fun in KidZania starts.

A child can choose any profession they want; from a fireman to a burger-flipper to a doctor.

It is, as managing director and CEO of Themed Attractions Tunku Datuk Ahmad Burhanuddin says, “The perfect city; with only one of everything” - which only makes sense since everything is sponsored by real-life brands! The Malaysian KidZania boasts an AirAsia airline, a Marrybrown burger joint, CIMB bank, and Honda car dealership, just to name a few.

Kidzania opportunities

Each activity is about 15-20 minutes in duration, and each establishment – or job – will have about six to eight children supervised by about three “Zupervisors” on average.

That’s right, Zupervisors. They are, as their name suggests, supervisors; and their job is to take care of the children of KidZania. Hardly any child will enter the KidZania terminal already knowing how to do the jobs in store for them, and this is where the Zupervisors come in! Using role play, they will facilitate and guide the children through the processes, ensuring that learning is fun in KidZania.

Seems like a tall order? It's not, really. The main quality needed in a Zupervisor is child-friendliness, with preference given to those aged between 19 and 25 years old. Potential Zupervisors need not come with a degree or even any prior experience; they will get full training under certified trainers from Mexico, which is as close as one can get to the original training without having to buy an air ticket.

Trainee Zupervisors will first undergo classroom training before setting out to learn more about the different establishments. After learning the basics about every establishment, a Zupervisor would be assigned to the establishments that suit him or her best.

Hishammuddin Mon, Themed Attractions' director of Human Capital Management and Development, says: “During the selection process, we will identify the forte of each and every candidate. There are people born to be artists, for instance, so we’ll send this candidate to an establishment that is related to his profile.”

That said, Zupervisors are required to get completely familiar with three different establishments within a six-month period. After those six months are up, they then have to move on to another three establishments. But don’t worry! Zupervisors are never left alone, lost and confused; there will be trainers from the sponsor companies to impart all the basic know-how and company values that a Zupervisor will need to know in order to, well, “zupervise” the miniature adults of KidZania.

Once a Zupervisor, always a Zupervisor? Not necessarily. There is much room to grow within the ranks of KidZania and beyond: Besides the personal development one can get from learning within the establishments, Zupervisors can progress to coordinators (the Zupervisors’ supervisors), and even associate producers. There is even room for expansion into the mother company, Themed Attractions.

As Tunku Ahmad says, “Those who stay on actually rise quite rapidly to the top. This can take them very far, and they will know very quickly if this is something they want to do in the long-term or not.”

Zupervisors zupervising the miniature workforce of Kidzania Zupervisors zupervising the miniature workforce of Kidzania