I Pretended To Be A Kid And Got An Insider Look At KidZania – Here’s What I Found Out
Have you ever wondered or fantasized about what life would be like if you were in a different career?
Well, I do it all the time. What if I was a policewoman? What if I worked at an ice cream factory? Having always been curious about what people in other careers did, I decided to give them a try at KidZania Singapore!
For those of you who haven’t heard of KidZania Singapore, it is an interactive indoor theme park that brings together inspiration, fun and learning through realistic role-play. Located at Sentosa, think of it as a kid-sized world that for the most part functions true to life. Think buildings, streets, vehicles and even a working economy!
Through exploring this 81,000 square feet space, and “working” like productive citizens of a society, children learn about different careers while gaining some understanding of how the world works. After all, you’re never too young to learn these things!
Here, there are more than 65 role play activities and over 40 establishments you’ll recognize from the real world including Esso, Mount Elizabeth Hospital, Lim Chee Guan, and more! The people at KidZania Singapore have already done the math – you’ll need 5 full days to complete every activity in KidZania Singapore!
While the theme park is designed for kids aged 4 to 17, that didn’t stop 25 year old me from crashing the fun.
Entering the park, I was blown away by this kid-sized city I never knew existed.
Trying Out Other Careers
1. Being An Armored Guard
The first job I tried was being an armored guard.
I wore my vest like the rest of the kids and was told to transport money to 2 different locations – Nanyang Optical and 7-11. I was given a clipboard which flipped over to reveal a map of the KidZania Singapore grounds. My locations were marked ‘1’ and ‘2’.
I was instructed to do 3 things once I got to each of them: say ‘kai!’ (KidZania Singapore has its own language!) when I met the person-in-charge, say that I’ve come to deliver money, and ask them to sign on my clipboard to indicate that they’ve received it.
With 2 (tiny) bags of money in my vault, and a clipboard in hand, I felt quite official – probably what the kids here feel too. I didn’t have much trouble finding my way to where I needed to go, but I did get plenty of weird looks from adults because clearly, I am too old to be doing this.
In exchange for my efforts, I got some kidZos – the currency in KidZania Singapore. For every job you do, you earn kidZos. Here’s a fun fact I found out: as with the real world, some jobs pay better than other. Working as a surgeon, for example, will give you one of the most kidZos in KidZania Singapore!
Like real currency, you can use your kidZos to buy things to take home. You can even use your kidZos to get a college degree, which will let you earn more kidZos when you work subsequently! Talk about realistic!
2. Being A Mountaineer
Another job I got the chance to try was being a mountaineer.
My agenda was simply to finish the high element course – easy peasy, or so I thought.
After one of the Zupervisors put me into my harness, I was ready to go.
While it seemed like a good idea at first, I quickly regretted my decision once I found myself on higher ground with nothing but a rope before me. Still, the Zupervisors at the station gave me very specific instructions on how to complete each challenge e.g hold on to the zaza (the KidZania Singapore term for ‘carabiner’), lean forward, do this, do that. I trusted them, and I was alright.
The harness and carabiner system used is extremely safe. Essentially, the entire course comes with ‘railings’, whether it’s the railings of the stairs or the supporting ropes that come with the various challenges. These ropes and stair railings are all linked such that you can drag your zaza through all of them, as you move through the course. You move your zaza with you as you go, and it serves as a failsafe in case you fall!
Initially, I was afraid to tackle each challenge, especially given the knowledge that this was designed for kids a fraction of my weight and height. After being assured multiple times that no kids have ever fallen from this course, I finally manned up and finished it.
Behind The Scenes
After getting a chance to play like a kid at KidZania Singapore, I got to take a look behind the scenes to understand the hard work that goes into running this city for kids. I quickly learnt that there was a lot that underpins this huge operation, and that there are plenty of neat technologies in place to aid the operation.
Tech In Security
Running an operation for kids comes with unique challenges – specifically, safety.
At peak periods (e.g school holidays) KidZania Singapore accommodates up to 1,500 people. Also, at KidZania Singapore, children are treated like adults and explore the world independently of their parents, which makes having good security measures in place even more necessary, both for the safety of the child and the peace of mind of parents.
One key security feature is the security bracelet kids are given at the airport (read: entrance) prior to entering KidZania Singapore. This contains key information about the child, including the child’s name, age, gender and their accompanying adults’ name. If a child runs out of KidZania Singapore on their own, the sensors will have their details reflected on the system so security staff can immediately track down the child.
Also, as an additional precaution against children leaving KidZania Singapore unsupervised, there is only 1 entrance (the airport) and 1 exit (the immigration office) to KidZania Singapore, excluding emergency exits.
Tech In Human Resource
Another snazzy piece of tech that helps KidZania Singapore manage their 300-strong staff – including interns, part-time and full-time staff – is the Smart Board.
Think of it as a huge iPad. It lets you surf the net, draw, save your ideas, and email them to all involved with the mere touch of a button.
This Smart Board comes in especially handy when it comes to remote training. People overseas or at home can dial in through Skype to view whatever is going on on-screen live. Given the large staff size at KidZania Singapore, this allows more people to undergo training at once, doing away with the need to hold multiple sessions or fly abroad for meetings.
Another feature that helps with the management of such a large group of staff is KidZania Singapore’s automated Human Resource (HR) system. Staff tap their staff pass on the machine to clock in, and their picture will also be taken and recorded by the system.
This system is integrated with the payroll system such that the entire process, from when staff clock in to work to when staff receive their pay, is seamless and almost fully automated.
Tech In Logistics
Finally, and perhaps the most interesting way tech is being integrated into KidZania Singapore’s operation is the RFID tagging of uniforms.
There are over 2000 uniforms to keep track of at KidZania Singapore, spread across all the roles Zupervisors play in KidZania Singapore. Some of these uniforms are linked to certain establishments, some are for performances, some are assigned to full-timers, and some are shared by different staff members.
This Radio Frequency Identification Device (RFID) tagging is an ID system that helps with identification and tracking of the uniforms by using small radio frequency identification devices. These tags are inserted into most of the uniforms.
When a Zupervisor takes their uniform out of storage, they tap the RFID tag against a reader at the uniform storage room to ‘check out’ their uniform. When they return it, they tap it again and an app called “Follow Suit” keeps track of who has taken or returned the uniform. Aside from this, a third party contractor washes all the uniforms at KidZania Singapore, and these washes are also tracked by the system.
This straightforward system provides a fast and effective way for the people in charge to track where a uniform is, as well as the activity of a uniform to see if it is due for a wash, needs to be replaced, has gone missing, etc.
Automation Serves Both Businesses And Employees
Several of the technological implementations, including the RFID tagging, the Smart Board and integrated HR and payroll system was funded by Employment and Employability Institute’s (e2i) Inclusive Growth Programme (IGP).
The funding dispersed to KidZania Singapore was meant to help automate manual processes and increase productivity. Because the grant is tied to a firm commitment on the company’s part to pass on these productivity gains in the form of salary increments, both full-time and part-time staff at KidZania Singapore were able to get pay increments.
Because some of the more manual tasks have been automated, KidZania Singapore is better able to cope with the challenges of management of staff and uniforms, so staff can focus their attention and energy towards a more important job – delivering the KidZania Singapore experience to children.
HR Best Practices
KidZania Singapore’s partnership with e2i did not stop at productivity funding through IGP. KidZania Singapore has partnered e2i to hold two mass recruitment fairs and collaborated on a 10-week Place-and-Train programme to train newcomers to take up leadership roles. KidZania Singapore is also very open to hiring mature workers, back-to-work women and fresh graduates without working experience, as long as they have a positive attitude.
Such inclusive workplace practices are certainly of merit and KidZania Singapore was recently given an award at the National Trades Union Congress’ (NTUC) May Day Awards 2017 under the Future Growth, Jobs and Skills category, honouring partners who advance the interests of working people in Singapore.
Fun Times At KidZania Singapore
I had so much fun experiencing KidZania Singapore and learning more about the inner workings of this amazing world. I loved how realistic everything was, down to the tiniest detail, and also, the energy and excitement of the people who work here, making KidZania Singapore what it is.
If a place like this can ignite such wonder and amazement in a 20-something year old like me, what more a young child!
If you haven’t been to KidZania Singapore already, make a date with this world with your nieces, nephews or your own kids! Explore the world of possibilities with them. You never know what you might ignite in them during your time there!
What’s more, they even have an adults-only event titled Back-to-Kidz for adults just like myself to relive our childhood aspirations, and job hop as we please! The next run is scheduled for 4 August 2017, and tickets are on sale at www.kidzania.com.sg.
Address: Palawan Kidz City, 31 Beach View #01-01/02, Singapore 098008
Contact no.: 1800 653 6888
Admission: Ages 0 – 1: $0 | Ages 2 – 3: $25 | Ages 4 – 17: $58 | Adult (ages 18 – 59): $35 | Senior Citizen (60 & above): $25
NTUC members get a 20% off return voucher, details here.
This article is written in collaboration with the Labour Movement to encourage good HR practices.